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The great interest that has been manifested in the 
International Fisheries Exhibitioii has led to the 
separate issue of the following accoimt of British Sea 
Fisheries, prepared as part of a series of volumes on . 
British Industries, edited by G. Phillips Bevan, Esq. 

London, Jwm 1888. 



Ska Fishxbibb * 1 

Trawling 19 

Drift-net PiBhing 49 

Line Fishing 71 

Sean Fishing 87 

The Stow Net 93 

The Kettle Net 98 

Trammel, or Set Nets 100 

English Fibhebdes 103 


Manx Fishebdbs 186 

Irish Fishebibs 188 



Beam-tbawl To face 22 

Tbawl-head 24 

Tbawl-head 25 

Babkino Tbawl-head 26 


Welled Smacks '.. .. 75 

Sprawl Wibe 81 

Gbimsbt God-ohest .. .. 82 


Dandt-line 86 

Thames Shbimf-net 131 

Thames Shbimfebs 133 

Habwich God-ohest .. .. 136 

Gobles 153 

Shetland Yawl 177 

Wexfobd Hebbino Got 197 


Page 4, line 11, afl&r "difipoee" aM ''of/ I 

„ „ 12, for "the husband's" read "their husbands'." 

Page 129, line 10, for "1852" read "1872." 


By E. W. H. Holdsworth, F.L.S., F.Z.S. 

The position occupied by the Sea Fisheries among 
the industries of the United Kingdom is one of pecu- 
liar importance. Their value in adding largely to the 
food resources of the country is of course very great ; 
but it is scarcely less important, that they cannot be 
carried on without contributing to the development 
of particular trades and manufactures, all of which 
are of essential consequence to a maritime people like 
our own; and that they are a regular means of training 
a large number of men and boys to the endurance of 
hardships and dangers, which are unavoidable elements 
iB a seafaring life. And when we consider the extent 
of our coast line, and that at even every little village 
on it, some of the population, and frequently many of 
them, are fishermen, we can hardly doubt but that the 
self-reliance and forethought induced in them by the 
necessities of their vocation, must have some influence 
for good on the national character. 

The present condition of our sea fisheries may be 


regarded as satisfactory. The increase in the aggre- 
gate tonnage of the larger fishing boats in England 
and Scotland ; the marked improvement in the style of 
craft used ; the larger supply of fish generally to the 
markets, consequent on the greater enterprise of the 
fishermen ; and notwithstanding the larger supply, the 
better prices the fishermen themselves receive for their 
captures, point alike to the increased demand for fish 
throughout the country, and to the confidence of the 
fishermen in the unfailing numbers of fish in the sea. 
In no class of persons perhaps is there, however, more 
frequent complaining or grumbling about bad times 
than among fishermen, if they are asked how their 
fishing is going on. The uncertainty about fishing 
seems generally present in their minds, and they 
cannot readily forget the amount of money they have 
laid out on boats or nets, and that bad weather, or 
some other cause not easy of explanation, may possibly 
prevent their having a good return for their outlay. 
There are often also antagonistic feelings between line 
and net fishermen, and between drift fishermen and 
trawlers; and when one method of fishing is at all 
interfered with by another — when trawlers occasionally 
work over ground where line-fishing has been carried 
on, and thus an innovation on the modes of fishing 
practised in a particular district has been made, then 
complaints are heard of the fish having been almost 
all driven away from the coast, and comparisons are 
made of the present bad times with some particular 
season when, on inquiry being made, it is probably 
found that fish were unusually abundant. There is. no 


doubt that our flBheries fluctuate a good deal from year 
to year ; and it is frequently the case, that they may be 
good on one part of the coast when they are bad on 
another. The important herring fishery on the coasts 
of Scotland is a remarkable example of this, and that 
it is so, is familiar to most persons concerned in those 
fisheries. Thus, it not unfrequently happens that 
when the fishery on the east side is particularly suc- 
cessful, a scarcity occurs on the west coast; or her- 
rings are sometimes abundant on the west coast, when 
the fishery on the eastern side has been generally 
unsuccessful. Again, in some years the fish are 
equally abundant or scarce on both coasts. 

These fluctuations are found in even small districts 
of a line of coast, or, one part of a season may be good 
and another bad in the same locality. Precisely 
similar variations occur on all the coasts of the British 
Islands, and with all kinds of fishes. Weather is an 
important element in the question ; but the real expla- 
nation of these fluctuations cannot be given until we 
know a great deal more of the habits of sea fish, and 
of what influences their migrations from one part of 
the coast to another, and their movements towards the 
shore, or the reverse, than we do at present. On these 
very important questions the fishermen can only offer 
crude opinions, although in very many cases their 
ideas are expressed with the fullest confidence in their 
being strictly founded on facts. The fisherman's know- 
ledge may, indeed, be commonly summed up in the 
fact, that certain fishes frequent particular localities at 
some definite season. They fish for them there ac- 

B 2 


oordingly ; and, as they say, if they have fine weather 
and good luck, they catch them. 

The changes which haye taken place in the fishing 
trade within little more than a generation, and even in 
recent years, are very remarkable. Formerly, a great 
deal of the fishing on our coast was carried on in small 
open boats at a very short distance from the land, and 
what each boat brought in was readily sold in the 
place, or was offered at the houses in the neighbour- 
hood by the fishermen's wives, whose regular busi- 
ness it was to dispose to the best advantage the 
varied produce of her husband's morning's work. 
Now, the whole system of selling fish has been com- 
pletely changed on a very large proportion of our 
coasts. Markets for the sale of fish have been opened 
up in all parts of the country, and such a stimulus 
has been given to fishing as is little appreciated by 
many who might be supposed to understand some- 
thing of what is going on around them. 

The great agent in the change which has taken place 
is mainly the extension of railways throughout the 
length and breadth of the land. The cost of carrying 
fish a hundred miles inland is now of trifling import- 
ance, and railway companies whose lines run along the 
coast, or extend inland from places where fish is likely 
to be landed, have had the good sense to give every 
facility to the increase of fish-carrying, seeing the 
prospect there was of establishing a regular and pro- 
fitable trafi&c. The means thus afforded of disposing 
of any quimtity of fish, whilst yet only a few hours 
out of the water, and in a condition which not many 


years ago would in inland towns have been thonght 
simply impossible, stirred up the fishermen to work 
with corresponding energy. The change is hardly 
less marked because it has been to some extent gradual, 
for whereyer a line of railway has been opened along 
the coast, an increase of fishing has taken place in 
connection with it, the fishermen haye obtained better 
prices for what they brought in eyery day, and this 
has giyen a stimulus to their work which was pre- 
yiously unknown to them. One curious effect resulted 
from the inc^rease of fishing at places within easy 
reach of a line of railway, which for a long time was 
not generally understood. The larger the supply of 
fish landed at any of these fortunate places, and the 
more important such places became as fishing stations, 
the more dif&cult it was for the people of the locality 
to procure fish. A cry arose that fish were becoming 
scarce, and the more numerous were the fishing boats, 
the smaller, it was said, was the catch of fish by each 
boat. It is dif&cult to beHeye that persons who saw 
tons of fish daily sent away by the trains where only 
hundredweights were landed a few years before, could 
haye so persistently shut their eyes to the £B>cts. Yet 
such was the case on many parts of the coast. Now, 
eyery fisherman complains if he has no railway within 
easy reach, for he knows that his market must depend 
on his immediate neighbourhood, whilst perhaps only 
a few miles off, eyery fish that is brought on shore is 
eagerly bought up to be sent away by train to inland 
towns, where the supply has not yet reached the limits 
of the ever-growing demand. For a long series of 


years the coast population had almost a monopoly of 
the fish that was brought on shore. A few highly- 
favoured people in the country occasionally had a 
small supply of fish sent them by the coaches, but to 
the vast majority of the inland population fresh fish 
was a thing utterly unknown. Now the whole system 
is reversed. Wholesale dealers attend the arrival of 
the boats at all the fishing stations of the slightest 
<ionsequence. There are regular agents of the Bil- 
lingsgate salesmen always on the look-out for anything 
that is marketable, either to send to their principals 
in London, or, under their instructions, to forward 
their purchases to fishmongers at the inland towns. 
It will, therefore, be readily understood that those 
persons who formerly had their choice of soles, cod 
or other kinds of fish, are in these times frequently 
obliged to send to some large market inland, and 
perhaps pay a high price for such fish as used to be 
regularly brought for sale to their own doors. 

There are. unfortunately no direct means of ascer- 
taining, even approximately, the quantity of fish an- 
nually brought to market. But I may refer to some 
of the circumstances which show that the supply must 
have very largely increased in recent years. What has 
chiefly led to the increase of the sea fisheries is, as 
before mentioned, the universal extension of railways 
wherever it has been practicable to construct them, 
and there has been a reasonable prospect of their 
paying. In former years, when railways were in their 
infancy, most of the fish sold at Billingsgate was 
brought thither by water carriage. It was the one 


great market, and London was the first place to have 
her wants supplied. At that time the Billingsgate 
salesmen forwarded to the conntry such fish as could 
be spared and was likely to reach its destination in 
proper order. Eyen after railways had been consider- 
ably extended, they were used more for distributing 
the fish to the country from London than for bringing 
it thither ; for, excepting Yarmouth, the present great 
North Sea stations had not then attained much im- 
portance, and both trawlers and deep-sea liners mostly 
hailed from the Thames. As the coast lines of railway 
became completed, their convenience for sending the 
fish to London was soon recognized, and their fish 
traffic rapidly increased ; for London was still the 
great wholesale market, and the salesmen supplied 
the country fishmongers according to the orders re- 
ceived by post. But as time went on, and the electric 
telegraph became generally established throughout 
the country, a great change took place in the mode 
of doing business. The agents at the different fishing 
stations received notices by "wire" from their prin- 
cipals in London of the country orders to be executed, 
and the fish was forwarded accordingly direct from the 
place where it was landed, thus saving both time and 
expense. This is the present practice to a very large 
extent; but there are many parts of England which 
can still be most conveniently supplied from Billings^ 
gate. The fish business done by " wire " is, however, 
considerable, and telegraph charges have become an 
important item in the accounts of the salesman at the 
present day. 



Anyone wlio lias at all looked into the question of 
the daily supply of fish from our coasts, must be well 
aware that these direct consignments to inland markets 
afford the most positive contradiction to the argu- 
ments which the systematic denouncers of free fishing 
in the sea have so frequently brought forward. For, 
notwithstanding the literally enormous quantity of 
fish which is thus sent to inland towns without coming 
at all to Billingsgate, that great market has been so 
overburdened with the supply sent there for some 
years past, and the various narrow streets and lanes 
leading to it have been so choked daily with the 
number of railway waggons waiting to deliver their 
loads, that the Corporation of London have recently 
taken the subject in hand, and at very great expense 
are doubling the size of this great metropolitan fish 
market. Yet where, twenty or thirty years ago, fish 
was almost unknown in the country, there is now 
a regular supply at prices very commonly lower 
than those charged by the West End fishmongers in 

The railways have thus revolutionised the trade in 
fish, more so, undoubtedly, in England, than in either 
Scotland or Lreland ; but the railway system has also 
told very largely, indeed, in the sister kingdoms, and 
the recent extensions on both sides of Scotland have 
led to increased fishing on many parts of those coasts. 
Next to railways as a means of facilitating the disr 
tribution of fish to all parts of the country, and thus 
stimulating the fishermen to increased enterprise and 
energy in their vocation, I must mention the very 


important article of ice, now a necessary part of the 
fit-out of almost all our deep-sea trawlers, those which 
work as a rule far out of sight of land. The idea of 
using ice for the preservation of fish, was first put into 
a practicable shape by the late Mr. Samuel Hewett, to 
whose credit it may be stated that, beginning life as 
a boy on board a trawl-smack, he liyed to see a fleet 
of fifty or sixty vessels in regular work for himself and 
family,, and under his own supervision, to almost the 
last days of his life. 

His is one more example of how what may be called 
a rough, unlettered man succeeded, by hard work and 
constant attention to his business, in doing good, not 
only to himself, but to an extent he perhaps little 
anticipated, to the community at large. 

At the present moment no less than 25,000 tons of 
ice are annually imported from Norway into Hull, one 
of the great North Sea trawling stations, for the sole 
purpose of being used for packing the fish in, either 
on board the fishing smacks, or when sending it off by 
railway. Hull is only one of three very large trawl- 
ing stations on the north-east coast of England, and 
the increase in the quantity of fish, which, by the use 
of ice, is now delivered in good condition at the 
various markets of the country, is almost incalculable. 
It may be said with good reason that, excluding her- 
rings, pilchards, and sprats, a very large proportion of 
the fish now caught on the English coasts is put into 
ice as soon as taken out of the water ; it is brought 
on shore, sometimes afber several days, and sold in the 
wholesale markets ; it is then repacked in ice and for- 


warded to Billingsgate, and other large markets, where it 
is purchased by the fishmongers, who have a stock of 
ice at home ready to receive it ; and there it remains, 
if properly taken care of, till it is wanted, suf&cient 
only to make an attractive display being laid ont at 
one time for sale. The fishmonger is no longer dis- 
quieted by any doubts about the fish which is unsold 
to-day being sound and presentable to-morrow ; if his 
cellar be in proper order, there need be no cause for 
anxiety. The use of ice, of course, adds to his ex- 
penses, which he makes the public pay for, but it is a 
real and great saving to him in fish ; were it not so, we 
may be quite sure he would have little to do with it. 
The wholesale dealers benefit by the use of ice, only 
so far as it enables a larger quantity of fish to como 
into their hands for sale. They cannot lay by what is 
not disposed of. Overburdened Billingsgate must be 
cleared out to-day, or there will be no room for what 
will certainly be brought there to-morrow ; and if the 
supply be more than is required by regular London 
and country customers, the rest must be got rid of at 
a price which attracts another class of buyers — the 

There is always a very large quantity of " offlJ " fish, 
such descriptions as are not included under the trade 
term of ^ prime," purchased by these itinerant dealers, 
and their business lies chiefly at the east end of the 
town, in poor districts, and in back streets generally. 
Plaice especially are in request by their customers, 
and notwithstanding the immense supply of this fish 
daily sent to market by the trawlers, there appears to 


be always a sale for it. Bnt it not nnfreqaently 
happens that there is a glnt of some of the better 
kinds of fish, and, as we have said, the market most be 
cleared; then the costermongers may be seen going 
with their barrows into more select neighbourhoods 
than they nsually yisit, and hawking soles, haddocks, 
and whiting, fresh from the market, as well as their 
more general stock of inferior kinds. And the fish 
they are thus enabled to sell at low prices is excellent, 
while the fashionable world are paying fashionable 
rates for such fish as the ordinary purveyors may like 
to send them fresh from the ice in their cellars. 

It may be a question whether fish kept in ice will 
long retain its flayour and firmness, but I beHeve 
there is no doubt of its being wholesome and nutri* 
tious, if used immediately after removal from the ice* 
box. There are very few kinds of fish which would not 
taste better, if eaten as soon as they are caught ; but such 
delicacies are now seldom to be procured, if a railway 
be within reach of the plaoe where they are landed. 
There is no help for it, however ; for, were ice not in 
such general use by the fish dealers and many of the 
fishermen, a much smaller supply of fish would be in 
a saleable condition when it reached the market, and 
the quantity sent would be materially diminished ; at 
the same time the existing facilities of transport in- 
land direct from the fishing stations would, as at pre- 
sent, certainly lead to a great demand for it in the 
country ; competition between the buyers for the fish 
likely to bear the carriage to distant markets would 
result in prices which would cut off hundreds of 


thousands of would-be consumers ; and although fish 
would then be supplied in most cases in a really 
fresher and better condition than is now often the 
case, it would be only a luxury in very many houses 
where it is now an article of daily consumption. 

Thus the railway system has created an immense 
increase in the demand for fish, and the use of ice has 
contributed materially to meet it, by preserving in a 
wholesome condition an enormous quantity of fish 
which would otherwise have been unsaleable. The 
result of the combination of these two influences has 
been a considerable deyelopment of our fisheries, and 
consequently a great increase in the number of boats 
and men employed in the deepnsea fishing. Yet the 
supply has not hitherto kept pace with the unfailing 
demand for fish among the increasing population of 
this country; and competition between the general 
dealers has resulted in the fishermen, as a rule, now 
obtaining much better prices than formerly for the 
produce of their labour. That fishing is now a gene- 
rally profitable occupation, taking one season with 
another, is shown not only by the fisherman being able 
to provide for the increased expenses of his living and 
the greater cost of everything required in his occupa- 
tion, but by the large number of new and better class 
of fishing boats which are taking the place of such as 
were in general use only a few years ago. With rare 
exceptions, all this money invested in fishing boats has 
been the legitimate produce of fishing. 

The increase in the size of the fishing boats has not 
been confined to any particular part of the coast, or to 


those employed in any one kind of fishery. Under the 
Sea Fisheries Act, 1868, all boats or yessels belonging 
to the United Kingdom, of whatever size, and however 
propelled or navigated, which are employed in sea 
fishing for the purposes of sale, are obliged to be 
registered at the Cnstom Honse, and to have their 
port letter and number marked in a conspicuous 
manner on their bows, and, where it can be done, on 
their principal sail. For the better distinguishing of 
harbour, coast, and deep-sea fishing boats, they are 
divided into three classes, as follows : 

1st Class: Boats of fifteen tons burthen, and up- 

2nd Class : Boats of less than fifteen tons burthen, 
navigated otherwise than by oars only. 

8rd Class : Boats navigated by oars only. 

The registering officer, however, has a discretion 
allowed him to place in the third, instead of the 
second class, any small fishing boat in which a sail is 
occasionally used. This provision is very necessary 
in the case of the Irish fishing boats, as a large pro- 
portion of them are very small, and being used for 
many purposes besides fishing, a sail of some kind is 
often needed. This classification of our fishing boats 
is quite an arbitrary one ; and, without local informa- 
tion, it is impossible for anyone to ascertain for what 
purpose the boats in any of the classes are used, or 
whether there has been an increase or decrease in any 
particular mode of fishing. For instance, the boats in 
the first class, ranging from fifteen tons upwards, in- 
clude all the deep-sea trawlers, which at the present 


moment ayerage abont fifiy-fiye tonfi, many of the new 
ones being as mnch as seyenty or eighty tons ; oyster 
smacks are also included; and owing to the recent 
increase of size in the Scottish drift-fishing boats, a 
majority of them will also rank as first-class boats 
instead of in the second class, according to former 
returns. Many of the Cornish, and almost all the 
Yarmouth drift boats, will also go in the first class. 
Again, in the second class eyery description of fishing 
boat, except such as is used for sean-fishing, is in- 
cluded, and consequently no idea can be formed from 
the return of the state of any one fishery. In the 
third class there should be yery few boats except those 
specially used for sean-fishing and harbour oyster 
dredging ; but the discretionary power of the register- 
ing of&cer must offcen lead him to put numerous small 
line, crab and lobster fishing boats in this class, 
although each of them carries a sail wheneyer it can 
be used with adyantage, and should accordingly go 
into the second class. It will, therefore, be seen that 
one of the objects sought for in the registration of 
fishing boats, that of showing approximately the 
number and size of the boats engaged in each kind of 
fishery, and, therefrom, the flourishing condition or 
otherwise of that fishery, is entirely defeated by the 
absence of a good arrangement of the information col- 
lected by the Customs, and classified by the Eegistrar- 
General of Shipping and Seamen under the direction 
of the Board of Trade, by whom it is published. It 
is true that in the second and third classes certain 
details are giyen, eyidently with the best intention. 


but they really only add to the confusion, thus: the 
aggregate tonnage of some of the boats in each of these 
classes at particular ports is giy6n,and the remainder are 
arranged in different groups, according to their length 
of keel, many of the latter being evidently much 
larger boats than those whose size is recorded by 
tonnage. There are certain things broadly indicated, 
howeyer, by these of&cial returns, imperfect as they 
are, in respect to the second and third classes, and 
these are that there has been a great increase in the 
number and tonnage of the first-class boats, and a 
marked decrease in the number of the second and 
third class fishing boats. And, from information that 
I haye obtained since the publication of the last of&cial 
return, I am enabled to say that the change is still 
going on in the same direction. The larger size is 
especially noticeable in the case of the North Sea 
trawlers, and the increase in the number of trawlers 
at almost every station is very remarkable. Every 
yard in which such vessels are built (and fishing craft 
of this kind are usually constructed only at places 
where their requirements are well understood) is full 
of work, and orders are waiting their turn for execu- 
tion. I have reason to believe that there are now suffi- 
cient orders given for new vessels of the largest size, 
known as trawl-boats, to occupy two years in their 
completion. The cost of trawl-boats, owing to their 
larger size and the greater expense of all the materials 
used in their construction, has increased within the 
last fifteen years from 700Z. or 800Z. to upwards of 
1200;. each. 


Trawlers, however, are not the only fishing boats 
which have increased in size and cost A very remark- 
able change has in recent years been made in the 
Scotch fishing boats, especially those on the east coast, 
and much of the danger to which they were so fre- 
quently exposed during the heavy gales from the 
east and north*east is now guarded against by using 
decked fishing boats instead of the entirely open 
boats which, for generations past, had been almost the 
only ones employed there. The annual loss of life 
among these hardy fishermen from their boats being 
swamped, either when overtaken by the sudden gales 
in the treacherous North Sea, or whilst running 
through the broken water in attempting to enter their 
little fishing harbours, was for years insuf&cient to 
induce them to give up what their fathers had been 
accustomed to work with. But a more sensible course 
has recently been pursued ; and an alteration from 
undecked to decked boats having been made in some 
few instances, the advantage of the change became so 
evident, not only in the greater safety of the fishermen, 
4)ut also in their being able to go out and carry on 
profitable fishing in weather which would have for- 
merly obliged them to remain on shore, that decked 
boats rapidly grew in favour, and now most of the 
boats at the important stations are of that description, 
and they are added to every year. With the change 
of style there has also been an increase in size, bringing 
a great number of them within the first class ; the second- 
class boats have accordingly considerably diminished 
in number. Not less remarkable than the change from 


nndeoked to decked boats has been the alteration in 
the masting of yery many of the Sootch boats. Any- 
one who had an opportunity a few years ago of com- 
paring the Sootch with the English drift-boats, must 
have noticed the peculiar rig of the former in the 
general absence of a mijsen-lug, and the practice of 
carrying a large main-lug and a fore-lug. The incon- 
yenienoe of the necessary arrangements in a decked 
boat for lowering the mainmast, as well as the fore- 
mast, when fishing, which is so desirable as to be 
almost absolutely requisite, has led to the adoption in 
these boats of the uniyersal rig of drift-boats in Eng- 
land, namely, a yery large fore-lug and a mixen ; thus 
the mainmast is altogether got rid of, and the adyantage 
is gained of haying the after sail in a position where 
it has increased power, which is especially useful on a 
wind, or when the boat is working its way in or out of 
harbour, while at the same time giying more room 
in the boat. 

I haye hitherto said yery little of the Irish 
fisheries. They offer a painful contrast to those of 
England or Scotland ; not, howeyer, from any general 
scarcity of fish, but unfortunately owing to the annual 
decline in the number of persons who deyote their 
energies to the necessary work. Emigration, impro- 
yidence — with its natural result, poyerty — distance 
from markets in some districts, objections and obstruc- 
tions to unaccustomed methods of fishing in others, 
idleness after successful work, and, I fear, an incli- 
nation to spend money in drink rather than in mate- 
rials for fishing, haye in one part or other of Ireland 



gradually reduced the fisheries to their present low 
condition. With signs of improyement in recent years 
on some parts of the coast, there has been an increased 
falling off in others, resulting every year in a decrease 
in the total number of both boats and fishermen. I 
have been obliged, therefore, to leaye the Irish fisheries 
out of the question when speaking generally of the 
condition of the sea fisheries of the United Kingdom ; 
but I shall haye, occasion to refer to them more par- 
ticularly, when I notice the several Irish districts in 
which fisheries of any importance are now carried on. 

The following table, compiled from the Annual 
Eetums published by the Board of Trade, shows the 
number and aggregate tonnage of the first class, and 
the number of the second and third class fishing boats 
on the register in the United Kingdom in the years 
1872, 1873, 1874, and 1875. A fair idea of the aye- 
rage size of the first-class boats may be gained from 
this table ; but it is impossible to estimate that of the 
second and third class boats from these returns, and 
there is some doubt about the accuracy of the numbers. 

Total number of fishing boats registered in the 
United Kingdom in the years 1872, 1873, 1874, and 
1875, arranged according to their classes : 


First Class. 

Second Class. 

Third Class. 











It shonld be remembered that the boats in the first 
class range from 15 to oyer 80 tons, and those in the 
second and third classes together inclnde everything 
under 15 tons down to the smallest boat, each of these 
two classes containing fishing boats of both large and 
small size, although the third class consists mainly of 
the smallest kinds used for harbour fishing. 

I now propose to give some account of the several 
methods of fishing commonly carried on in our seas. 
To enable the modes of working to be fairly under- 
stood, it will be necessary to enter somewhat into 
details ; but I shall endeavour to avoid technicalities 
as much as possible, so as to make my descriptions 
and explanations reasonably iutelligible. 

The principal methods of fishing are those by trawl- 
nets, drift-nets, line and sean-nets. 


Thebe is no method of fishing which is of greater 
importance in relation to the supply of fish to our 
markets than trawling ; for it is not only the means of 
providing us with the essentially " prime " fish, such 
as turbot, brill, and soles, but also with immense 
numbers of plaice and haddock, besides other kinds 
of fish which are in great demand by the poorer 
classes of this country. It is also worthy of notice 
that trawling is carried on throughout the year ; and, 



as a good deal of wind is necessary for towing the 
trawl-net oyer the ground, its most effective work is done 
during the winter, when the weather is often unsuit- 
able for other kinds of deep-sea fishing. The name of 
the net is evidently derived from the manner in which 
it is worked, rather than from any peculiarity in the 
net itself ; the trawl, such as I am now speaking of, 
is a flattened bag-net, commonly about 100 feet long, 
or perhaps rather more, and it is towed, trailed, or 
trawled along the bottom in such a manner, as to catch 
those fish especially which naturally keep close to or 
upon the ground. 

It is very desirable that the name ^' trawl " should 
be restricted to the net now under notice ; as this mode 
of Ashing is everywhere, except in Scotland, or most 
parts of it, known by the name of ^'trawling." In 
many parts of Scotland, however, the scan, used par- 
ticularly for catching herrings, and thrown out or 
"shot" in a semicircle, is also called a ''trawl," 
because, we may suppose, the two ends of the net are 
dragged or trailed towards some place either on shore 
or to an anchored boat, untU the whole net is gathered 
in. Much confusion has arisen among the numerous 
persons who have written on the sea fisheries, owing 
to the different applications of the term '' trawl " ; it 
is therefore important to remember that the herring 
trawl in Scotland is nothing more than the net which 
is universally known in England as the scan, which 
will be hereafter described ; and that the true trawl, 
or '* beam-trawl," as it is very frequently called, is a 
flattened bag-net towed over the ground, for the most 


part in deep water, at a distance of yery many miles 
from the shore. 

I have been unable to ascertain anything of the 
origin of trawling ; it may have been a common mode 
of fishing in the bays and shallow waters along our 
coasts during the last century, but good evidence of 
such having been the case is wanting ; and it appears 
quite certain that at the beginning of the present 
century, the trawl vessels were few and of very small 
size. No method of fishing, however, has so rapidly 
developed as this, and the increase has been especially 
marked during the last fifteen or twenty years. At 
the present moment there is more capital embarked in 
trawling than there has ever been since that mode of 
fishing came into use ; and owing to the demand for 
fish in all parts of the country, which has sprung up 
in recent years in consequence of the fEusilities offered 
by the railways for its transit to inland markets, prices 
have increased to some extent, and, we are glad to say, 
the fishermen now obtain a larger share than formerly 
of what the consumer is called upon to pay. 

Trawl fishing is carried on to a large extent by the 
French, Belgian, and Dutch fishermen; and on the 
Spanish coast a net of the same kind, but without a 
beam, and requiring two vessels instead of one to work 
it, has been in use for a very long time. 

The principal stations in England for deepnsea 
trawling are Plymouth, Brixham, Dover, and Eams- 
gate, in the English Channel; Barking, Lowestoft, 
Yarmouth, Grimsby, Hull, and Scarborough, on the 
east coast ; Fleetwood, Whitehaven, and Liverpool, on 


the west ; and Carnarvon and Tenby, on the coast of 

There has been very little [beam trawling on the 
Scottish coast nntil within the last very few years ; 
but since the extension of railways on the western 
side, trawling has been snccessfolly worked on a 
limited ^tent of coast, but almost entirely by English 

In Ireland the trawling stations for large vessels are 
Dublin, Waterford, Dingle, and Galway. 

In-shore trawling is carried on by small craft on 
several parts of the coasts of the three countries, but 
far less in Scotland than elsewhere. 

Tha Beam-trawl. 

I will now give some account of the construction 
of the trawl, and of the manner in which it is worked. 

The beam-trawl may be simply described as a tri- 
angular, flat, .purse-shaped net, with its wide mouth 
kept extended by a horizontal wooden spar called the 
"beam," which is raised a short distance from the 
ground by two iron supports or " heads " ; the upper 
part of the mouth of the net being fastened to the 
beam, and the under portion or lower edge of the 
opening dragging on the ground as the net is towed 
over the bottom. 

I will take one of the Brixham trawls as a fair 
example of this kind of net, and the details I shall 
now give are taken from such nets as are in ordinary 
use in this, as it is believed to be, original trawling 

Tu facc'pcufC' 2^ 

h Iroovl/ luaxt 
tL Grounds -rope' 

e. Bosonv 

f. CotL or purser 

g. DraM/Top^ 
lu Ruhhwq pvbota 
t. Pocket' 

Stan/vrcLs Otog}' S8talf,£ondorL 


The beam of course varies in length according to 
the size of the net, and depends to some extent also 
on the length and power of the vessel which has to 
work it. In the large ^smacks," as the trawl-boats 
have long been called, the beam ranges from 86 to 50 
feet in length. Elm is generally preferred for it, 
selected if possible from timber grown of the proper 
thickness, that the natural strength of the wood may 
not be lessened by any more trimming or chipping 
than is absolutely necessary. If the required length 
and thickness cannot be obtained in one piece, two or 
even three pieces are scarfed together, and the joints 
are secured by iron bands. Appearance here is not of 
so much consequence as strength and toughness, to 
resist the strain to which the beam is commonly 
exposed when the net is at work. I have mentioned 
that the length of the trawl-beam has some relation to 
the length of the vessel ; the explanation of this is, 
that when the trawl is being hoisted in, the first part 
that comes on board is the large heavy beam ; and it is 
important that it should be secured as quickly as 
possible without being actually taken into the vessel, 
which would commonly be a work of difficulty, and 
sometimes of danger, seeing that in most cases the 
vessel is rolling and pitching about far out at sea, when 
this part of the work has to be done. The ' beam is 
therefore made of such a length as to reach from the 
extreme end of the stem to just in front of the after- 
most shroud, nearly opposite the mast. When, there- 
fore, the beam is hoisted up alongside, one end of it is 
made fast by a rope which comes in over the stem and 


Beonrea it there, whilst the other ^id is fastened 
between two of the shroncU, the beam itself Testing on 
the t(^ <^ the bulwark. 


The use of the beam is to extend the month of the 
net ; bnt in order to allow room for the fish to enter, 
the beam, and with it the back of the net, innst be 
raised a certain distance from the gronnd. For this 
purpose, the beam is &stened at each end to the top of 
an iron frame, shaped something like an irregularly 
formed stirmp, which is fitted to it at right angles by * 

Fig. 2. 


a square socket at the top. By these *' heads or irons " 
the beam is raised nearly three feet from the ground, 
and, contrary to the very popular idea, never touches 
the bottom. It could do so, only if the trawl were to 
reach the ground with its back undermost, and then 
the mouth of the net would close and no fish could 
enter. The lower part of the trawl-head or iron is 
straight and flat, just like the corresponding part of a 
stirrup. It is called the ''shoe," and is the part which 
slides over the ground, as the trawl-net and beam are 
towed along. There is some slight yariation in the 
shape of the irons used on different parts of the coast, but 



the commonest forms are those represented in Figs. 1, 2, 

and, as will be seen, are rounded in front and angolar 

behind. One kind known as the Barking pattern, and 

used by the Barking and many of the Tarmoath 

trawlers, is quite symmetrical and stirrup-like in 

shape, but it is not approved of by the great body of 

the trawlerSi 

Fig. 3. 

Barking Trawl-head. 

The trawl itself is, as I have before mentioned, a 
triangular purse-shaped net, consisting of seyeral 
portions, each having its own name. An old-fashioned 
bed watch-pocket laid on its face will give a fair idea 
of a trawl, when in a position for working. What is 
then its upper surface is called the '^ back," and the 
under portion the ''belly." The straight front edge 
of the back, or '' square " of the net is fastened to the 
beam, and is therefore raised two or three feet from 
the ground. The corresponding lower part of the 
net, however, is cut away in such a manner, that the 
margin of the net forms a deep curve extending from 
the foot of one trawl-iron to the other, and therefore 


close to the grotind ; the centre of the curve or 
^ bosom " being at a considerable distance behind the 
beam and front of the net. The usual rule in English 
trawls is, for the distance between the beam and the 
centre of the curve to be about the same as the length 
of the beam. In French trawls this distance is gene- 
ally much less ; but in all cases there is a consider- 
able space of ground over which the beam and back 
of the net must pass, when the trawl is at work, before 
the fish lying under them on the bottom are disturbed 
by the lower part of the net. 

This curved lower margin of the mouth of the net 
is fastened to and protected by the ''ground-rope" 
(Fig. 1, d), which is made of an old hawser ''roimded" 
or covered with small rope to keep it from chafing, 
and to make it heavier. Its purpose is to pro- 
tect the edge of the net, and especially to keep it on 
the ground so as to sweep the bottom and disturb the 
fish, which, passing over it, then find their way into 
the narrow closed extremity of the trawl. The ends 
of the ground-rope are fastened on each side by a few 
turns round the back of the trawl-iron, just above the 
shoe, and the rope rests on the ground throughout its 
entire curve. The fish have therefore no chance of 
escape at either the sides or bosom of the net, and 
their only outlet, when once the beam has passed over 
them, is in front, so that they must dart forward in 
the direction in which the net is moving, to enable 
them to get clear of it. The ground-rope is made of 
old material, so that it may break, in case of getting 
foul of rocks or any chance obstruction which may be 


met with on the generally smooth bottom where only 
the trawl can be worked with advantage. If in Bneh 
a contingency the rope were so strong and good as 
not to break, there would be serious danger of the 
tow-rope parting, and then the whole apparatus might 
be lost ; bnt the ground-rope giving way, enables the 
net to be cleared, with the probability of no more 
damage to it than the broken rope and perhaps some 
torn netting. 

The remaining part of the trawl, that is, the portion 
extending from the bosom to the extreme end, forms a 
complete bag, and gradually diminishes in breadth 
until within about ten feet of the end. This last part 
of it is of uniform size, and is called the " cod " or 
*' purse"; it is here that the fish which enter the net are 
mostly collected, and they are prevented escaping by 
the end of this bag or purse being closed by a draw- 
rope when the net is in use. As soon, however, as all 
the net is hoisted in, the draw-rope is cast off, and the 
fish fall out on the deck of the vessel. The under 
part of this cod or purse is exposed to a good deal of 
wear from the weight of the fish collected within 
it ; and to protect it as much as possible, layers of 
netting, called " rubbing-pieces " are laced across it, 
one layer slightly overlapping the next one. In French 
trawls, a stout hide is frequently fastened under this 
part of the net for the same purpose. 

I now come to the means which are adopted to 
prevent the escape of the fishes which have found 
their way to the cod or purse of the net. 

The net has been described as tapering away until 


the purse is reached ; it is at this point the entrance 
to the pockets is placed, and the arrangements are 
such, that those fish which try to escape by returning 
along the sides of the purse, are pretty sore to get into 
the pockets, and there, the more they try to press for- 
wards, the more tightly they become packed. The 
pockets are not separate parts of the net, but are made 
by simply lacing together the upper and under parts 
of the trawl for a length of about sixteen feet on each 
side, in a line from the outer edge of the bag down- 
wards and inwards to its small end and the commence- 
ment of the purse or cod. The lower portion of the 
main body of the net is thus separated into three 
spaces of nearly equal breadth ; the central space is 
that through which all the fish pass which enter the 
purse ; it allows a free passage in that direction, but 
a valve or curtain of netting, called the "flapper," 
prevents their return. On each side of, and beyond, 
the flapper, however, is the entrance to a pocket ; and 
the fish, being unable to return through the passage 
closed by the flapper, make their way into the pockets 
and press on, till at last the gradual narrowing of the 
space stops their further progress in that direction. 
To understand clearly the fiEtcilities offered to the fish 
to enter the pockets, it is necessary to remember, that 
the trawl, when at work, is towed along with just 
sufficient force to expand the net by the resistance 
of the water. But this resistance directly acts oply 
on the interior of the body of the net between the 
pockets, and then on the purse ; it does not at first 
expand the pockets, but rather tends to flatten them, 

30 britisb: ind ustries. 

becanse they are yirtually ontside the cavity of the 
net, and their openings are at the fiEurther end of it. 
The water, however, which has expanded the body 
of the net, then makes its way through the flapper 
or valve, and enters the purse, which, being made 
with a much smaller mesh than the rest of the net, 
offers so much resistance, that it cannot readily 
escape in that direction; return currents are conse- 
quently formed along the sides, and these currents 
open the mouths of the pockets, which face the purse 
or small end of the net ; and the fish, in their efforts 
to escape, finding these openings, follow the course of 
the pockets, until they are unable to proceed any 
further. The whole of the net is therefore folly ex- 
panded, but it is so by the pressure of the water in 
one direction through the middle, and in the opposite 
one at the sides. 

In an ordinary deep-sea trawl, the meshes are of 
four sizes, diminishing from 4 inches square near the 
mouth to 1^ inch at the cod or small end ; and the 
twine used for the under part of the net is usually a 
size larger than that for the back. 

A large trawl such as has now been described is 
therefore an immense bag-net, frequently 50 feet wide 
at the mouth, and upwards of 100 feet in length. It 
is towed over the ground by the ^' trawl-warp," usually 
a 6-inch rope, 150 fathoms long, and made up of two 
lengths of 75 fftthbms each, spliced together. The 
end of this warp is shackled to two other pieces, each 
15 fathoms long, and called the " spans or bridles," 
which lead one to each end of the beam, and are 


sliackled to swivel-bolts in the front of the head- 

The vessels nsed for trawling have long been known 
as ^ smacks " from their smack or cntter rig. Forty 
or fifty years ago, they were of comparatively small 
size, ranging from about twenty to thirty-six tons. 
They were stoutly built craft, able to hold their 
own in almost any weather, but not remarkable for 
fast sailing. Sea-going qualities were especially ne- 
cessary in vessels which had to work at all times, and 
often at some distance from land. The improvements 
in modem shipbuilding were, however, not lost sight 
of ; and the great and increasing demand for fish has 
led to the construction of larger trawlers, capable of 
working much heavier nets, and with finer proportions, 
80 as to give greatly increased speed, that the fish 
might be brought to market with as little delay as 
possible. The large mainsail in these smacks has 
great driving power, and therefore is a very important 
sail; but the increase in the size of the vessels, 
especially during the last few years — many of them 
now being as much as seventy or eighty tons — has 
made a change of rig desirable, so as to be able to 
work them economically. The larger mainsail in these 
new vessels would require additional hands to look 
after it in bad weather, when a heavy boom is likely 
to strain everything to the utmost. This sail has 
accordingly been reduced in size, and a mizen mast 
has been added, on which a small gaff-sail is carried. 
The new vessels are also built of greater proportionate 
length than formerly, so that, with the change in rig, 


the great pressure of the sails is bronght lower, and 
the vessels are easier in a seaway, and more readily 
handled. These vessels are what is called '< ketch- 
rigged," and the change is generally adopted in the 
new trawlers at the North Sea stations and at Brix- 
ham. One important advantage in the increased size 
of these fishing vessels, is the additional room provided 
on board. This adds not only to the comfort of the 
crew, bnt enables a considerable quantity of ice to be 
carried, now a necessary condition of North Sea trawl- 
ing. Stowage is also provided for the produce of 
many days' fishing, when, as is the rule, except during 
the calm summer months, the North Sea trawlers stay 
ont for several days at a time, and bring home their 
own fish instead of sending it in by carriers. 

The cost of trawl smacks has greatly increased of 
late years, not only on acconnt of their larger size, but 
because of the higher price that has now to be paid 
for everything connected with their construction. In 
1862, a new trawler, ready for sea, and what was then 
considered one of the larger class, could be built and 
fitted out for 700Z. or 800Z. ; but the new class of 
vessels cannot be turned out at the present time for 
much less than 1200Z. This includes a fit-out of all 
that is required for fishing, which costs from 70Z. to 80Z. 
A fit-out consists of a double set of almost every part 
of the gear, to provide against accidents, and to save 
the time which would otherwise be lost, if the vessel 
were obliged to return to port before she had done a 
fair quantity of work. A trawl-net will perhaps last 
from two to four months, according to the nature of 


the ground worked on ; bnt daring that time parts of 
it will have to be renewed. The back of the net, being 
exposed to least wear, lasts the longest; the nnder 
parts will generally require renewing twice, and the 
ood or pnrse five or six times, before the whole net is 
finally condemned. Ordinary hemp is commonly em- 
ployed for these nets ; but the best Manilla hemp is 
coming into use at Grimsby and Hull. Manilla is 
very costly, but is more lasting. It is usually dressed 
with coal tar, which preserves the material better than 
either Stockholm tar or tan. 

The sails of all our trawlers are what is called 
" barked," or saturated with a solution of oak-bark, 
tar, grease, and red or yellow ochre. This compo- 
sition preserves the canvas, and is renewed every six 
or eight weeks. 

Working the Trawl, — A fair idea of the construction 
of the beam-trawl has been given in the preceding 
pages ; and it may be interesting if we say something 
now of the manner in which this net is worked. 
Nothing, of course, but practical observation on board 
a trawler will enable anyone to thoroughly understand 
%11 the points to be considered under the varying con- 
ditions of wind and tide, but the general mode of pro- 
ceeding may be easily explained. A favourable tide 
•is the first thing to be desired, one of only moderate 
strength, as the trawl, which is always towed as much 
as possible in the direction of, but a little faster than, 
the stream, then works steadily, and is easily kept on 
the ground. Supposing the vessel to be on her fishing 
ground, the first part of the tide is chosen for com- 


mencing work, as she can then tow for several honrs in 
one direction, and the usual practice is to keep the 
trawl down till the tide has done, about five or six 
hours at a time. The vessel is put under easy sail in 
the direction in which she is going to tow, depending 
on the wind being suitable for going with the tide. 
This is of such importance, that when the tide is run- 
ning dead against the wind no work can be done, and 
the fishermen can only beat up against the wind in 
order to take a suitable position for trawling in the 
opposite direction as soon as the tide has turned ; or, 
if the fishing ground be a large one, they heave-to, and 
wait for the favourable time. Most persons who have 
seen a trawl vessel either in harbour, or going out of or 
coming into it, will have noticed the long beam, with 
the curiously-shaped head-irons at each end, resting on 
the top of the bulwark, generally on the port or left 
side of the vessel when looking forward from the 
stem, and the immense net lying in irregular folds on 
the top of the beam. We may suppose this to be the 
position of the trawl just before the fishing begins. 
The vessel then being slowly sailing along her in- 
tended course, the first thing to be done is to put the 
net overboard, beginning with the small end, and 
throwing it out, or "shooting" it, until the whole is 
hanging over from the beam, and towing alongside. 
The front end of the beam is then slacked away till it 
is well clear of the vessel, and, being caught by the 
water, is turned outwards at nearly a right angle from 
the stem. The other end is then lowered from the 
stem, till the whole beam is level in the water ; and if 

TRAWLim. 36 

the trawl be then in proper position, with the back 
uppermost and the gronnd-rope below, more sail is put 
on the vessel ; the two ropes fastened to the ends of 
the beam are slowly and evenly paid ont till the 
shackle joining them to the trawl-warp is reached; 
then the warp itself is steadily given out, and the 
trawl is allowed to sink to the bottom. 

It will hardly be necessary to point ont why the 
vessel should be moving through the water when the 
trawl is being lowered. It will be obvious that if the 
apparatus is to reach the bottom with the trawl irons 
under the beam, and the lower part of the net and the 
ground-rope in their proper position below, no risk 
must be run of the net turning round or twisting as it 
is being lowered. There would be great danger of 
this happening, if the vessel were not moving ; the net 
would in such a case hang perpendicularly, and the 
beam would be almost certain to twist round, so that it 
would be a mere matter of chance whether the upper 
or under side of the net and beam would be the first 
to reach the bottom. If, however, as I have de- 
scribed, the net be got into proper position when at 
the surface, and the vessel be slowly sailed along, the 
net is then towed after it, and as the warp is given out, 
the net gradually sinks without changing its position, 
until at last it reaches the ground. Of course, expe- 
rience teaches the fishermen how to regulate the speed 
of the vessel, and the rate at which the warp should be 
given out, so as to ensure just sufficient strain on the 
trawl to keep it steady whilst it is going down. These 
are matters which none but the practical fisherman 

D 2 


thoronghly understandB ; they require some little jndg- 
xuent to prevent mistakes, and mistakes are sometimes 
made by them ; the strength of the tide may be mis- 
calculated, or something else ; and the irregular jerk- 
ing action of the trawl, owing to the beam being on 
the ground instead of only the irons, tells the fisher- 
men that the trawl is " on its back." In such a case 
there is nothing to be done but to heave up the net— a 
long and laborious process — and then, after getting the 
net into the proper position, to lower it once more. 

Supposing that to have been done, and the trawl to 
be properly working, as can be easily felt by the even 
and steady strain on the warp, the master uses his 
judgment as to how much more warp should be paid 
out. It should be remembered that the weight of the 
trawl-net and the trawl-irons, without considering the 
beam itself — which, from being so continually under 
water, soon becomes saturated, and loses all its original 
buoyancy — is such as to keep the whole apparatus at 
the bottom, whilst the strain of the warp, by which the 
trawl is towed along, is in a direction slanting up- 
wards. There are, therefore, two opposing forces, one 
tending to keep the net on the ground, and the other 
lifting it. The object is to regulate these forces so 
that the pull from the warp shall move the trawl 
lightly along the bottom, but without raising it from 
the ground. If there be too little warp allowed, the 
pull will be too much upwards, and the net will be 
lifted ; if, on the other hand, there be too much warp, 
the irons and net will be dragged too much through 
the groimd, and friction will be increased. One of the 


oonditioiis on which this regulation depends is the wind, 
for if there be very little breeze to drive the vessel 
along, the friction of the net and irons on the bottom 
may be sufficient to stop her way almost entirely. In 
Buch a case, very little extra warp is required, so that 
the lifting power may be increased, and the Motion 
over the bottom lessened. But if there be a great deal 
of wind, which will drive the vessel along even with 
very little sail, and especially if, as in such a case is 
likely to occur, there is a good deal of sea, and the 
strain on the warp becomes irregular and jerking, then 
more warp is allowed to counteract the tendency that 
there is to lift the net off the ground. The faster the 
vessel sails, the more likely the net is to leave the 
ground ; and as the trawl works most effectively when 
just touching the bottom, the master of the vessel has 
to calculate in a very rough way all the conditions re- 
quired for making the net work properly. This, as I 
have before said, is a matter of experience, and the 
ready way in which these rough fishermen make their 
calculations, often, I will venture to say, without 
being able to explain their reasons, is shown by the 
successful manner in which they commonly fish in all 
kinds of weather. 

I may now say a few words about the action of 
the beam-trawl when at work. This net is especially 
constructed for catching what are called ground-fish, 
those which, as a rule, keep at the bottom, and natu- 
rally hide under the sand or mud. With rare excep- 
tions, all the soles, turbot, brill, and plaice brought to 
market are caught by the trawl ; the various kinds of 


skate or ray are obtained by the same means; and 
notwithstanding the peculiar habits of all these fish, 
there is very little chance of their escaping, when once 
the trawl-beam has passed over them. The groimd 
which flat fish £reqnent is that with a smooth surface, 
and it will be eyident that it is only on such ground 
the trawl can be effectiyely worked. The trawl is 
always towed with the tide, but a little faster than it 
is running ; were it otherwise, the net, being lighter 
than the beam, weighted as it is with the irons, would 
be liable to be drifted forwards and prevent the 
entrance of the fish. The resistance of the water 
caused by the slight excess of speed in the trawl over 
the tide, varying according to circumstances, from half 
a knot to about a knot and a half in the hour, keeps 
the net expanded and in a proper position on the 
bottom. The ground-rope then does its duty. Its 
biting action or close pressure on the ground over 
which it is towed, is of the greatest importance when 
soles, turbot, or other flat fish are worked for, as these 
fish when disturbed do not rise from the ground, as is 
the habit with *' round fish," such as whiting, haddock, 
gurnards, &c., but seek safety in the sand. When, 
therefore, as the trawl is slowly towed along, the 
ground-rope disturbs these flat fish, their first impulse 
is to dart forwards and again bury themselves ; but the 
rope is steadily pressing on as the trawl advances, and 
they are again disturbed. This almost certainly ends 
in the fish, sooner or later, passing over the ground- 
rope and entering the net ; they cannot escape upwards, 
because the back of the net is above them, and if they 


dart forwards towards the entrance, they may have to 
go perhaps forty or fifty feet, the distance probably 
between the centre of the curved ground-rope and the 
beam, before they can get clear of the advancing net. 
The chances of escape are, therefore, very small, when 
once the back of the net is fairly over them. In the 
case of round fish, although they may dart some dis- 
tance on being disturbed, the fact of their not trying 
to bury themselves, but to rise from the ground, 
enables the ground rope to pass under them often 
without farther disturbance. 

The great resistance offered by the trawl to the for- 
ward movement of the vessel towing it, a resistance 
sufficient to reduce her speed in a good breeze perhaps 
from eight knots to one knot in the hour, is very com- 
monly ascribed to the supposed great pressure of the 
beam and net on the bottom, and to their not being 
towed lightly over the ground, but dragged through it. 
This has been the foundation of most of the argu- 
ments used by those persons who have declaimed 
against trawling, as causing the destruction of vast 
quantities of fish spawn, the opponents of this method 
of fishing apparently having been unaware that the 
trawl can only do its work when the beam is raised 
clear of the ground by the trawl-heads or irons. And 
the discovery by Professor Sars, that the spawn of 
almost all our edible fishes floats during development, 
explains the entire absence of evidence of fish spawn 
being brought up in the trawl, as the trawlers have 
been charged with doing to an enormous extent The 
difficulty of towing the trawl over the ground is, with- 


ont donbt, almost entirely dne to the resistanoe offered 
by the water, which expands this great bag net with a 
power only to be well appreciated by those who know 
the amount of labour required to haul in a simple 
curved wall of open netting, such as there is in a 
common sean. That such is the cause of the resist- 
ance is proved by the fekst, that when at certain seasons 
the trawlers are specially fishing for hake, which keep 
very near the groimd, but not absolutely upon it, and 
the net is therefore towed along almost clear of the 
bottom, the resistance is so great, that a heavy press of 
sail is necessary, in order to obtain a slight but de- 
sirable increase of speed over that needed for ordinary 

After the trawl has been towed over the ground for 
five or six hours, the tide having done, or the limit of the 
particular fishing ground having been reached, the net 
is hauled ""up. In the west coimtiy vessels, the warp 
is hove in over the bow by means of a large winch in 
front of the mast, or, in the new vessels especially, by 
a patent capstan near the middle of the vessel ; but in 
the North Sea trawlers, the warp is got in over the 
port side, and the capstan is always used. In either 
case the process is a laborious one, generally occupy- 
ing three-quarters of an hour, and, if there is much sea 
on, sometimes as much as three hours. The warp is 
coiled away below as it comes in, and the beam, having 
been swung alongside, hoisted up and secured, the net 
is gathered in until nothing remains in the water but 
the cod or purse at the end, in which almost all the 
fish are collected, those which had entered the pockets 


having been shaken down into the pnne as the main 
body of the net was hauled in. If there are only a 
few fish in the pnrse, it is lifted in by hand ; but when, 
as often happens, there is from half to three-quarters 
of a ton of fish, the bag is hoisted up by a tackle, and 
before being lowered on board, the draw-rope, which I 
previously spoke of as closing the end of the net, is 
cast loose, and the whole mass of fish fedls out on deck. 
The scene is a remarkable one, as, with few excep- 
tions, the fish are all alive and brilliant with their 
natural colours. The contents of the net are fre- 
quently of a most varied description, and they of course 
differ according to season and locality. Turbot, soles, 
plaice, whiting, gurnards .of several species, dogfish, 
flkates, with occasionally a lobster, crabs of various 
kinds, with a host of other inhabitants (^ the 
friends and foes, the pursuers and the pursued- 
here mingled in one writhing and slippery heap. In 
some parts of the North Sea the catch commonly con- 
sists of little besides haddocks ; in others plaice are 
the principal fish. But they are not left very long to 
expend their energies in useless flappings ; sorting the 
fish takes place without delay ; the " prime," or turbot, 
brill, soles, and red mullet, are picked out and packed 
away in baskets by themselves, and the other edible 
but inferior kinds, technically known as "offiJ," are 
arranged in separate packages, whikt the fisherman's 
mortal enemies, the dogfish, are knocked on the head 
and thrown overboard, with whatever else there may 
be of no use to anyone. In the North Sea, where the 
trawlers stay out for many days at a time, the fish 


is stowed away in the hold with layers of ice be- 
tween; but at Brizham and Plymouth the vessels 
return to harbour every day, and no ice is taken on 

The kind of weather is an important consideration, 
when trawling has to be carried on. The hot sunmier 
months are those in which the least work can be done, 
because then there is frequently not wind enough to 
tow the trawl over the ground. But in winter the 
trawlers are in constant work, and such weather as is 
sufficiently bad to put a stop to most other kinds of 
deep-sea fishing, often enables the trawlers to gather 
in the richest part of their harvest. It is a rough life 
they have to lead ; but there is a charm in it which 
makes them follow it up, when once they have become 
initiated into the work. With good vessels under them 
they go fiEurther to sea, stay out longer, and are exposed 
to worse weather, taking the year through, than any 
other kind of fishermen. They consequently become 
thorough sailors; but their training is due to their 
constant liability to hardships and dangers, more espe- 
cially in the troubled waters of the North Sea. As 
hard-working fishermen and sailors, the trawlers stand 
in the front rank ; and I may add that, as a rule, they 
are equally conspicuous for their honesty and sobriety, 
a very large proportion of them being teetotallers, and 
co£Eee their favourite drink. Oood sailors as they are, 
however, the terrific North Sea gales in which they 
are sometimes caught, are more than they can always 
contend with. But they are too feur from land to have 
much hope of gaining shelter ; they must battle it out 
as best they can; and when, after days of anxious 


watching and waiting by wives and mothers on shore, 
some of the smacks return and report that one or more 
of the fleet have not been seen or heard of since the 
gale — that perhaps a boat has been picked up, or float- 
ing wreckage identified as belonging to a fishing craft, 
then the truth comes home in all its bitterness, that the 
missing trawl smacks and their hardy crews will never 
again be seen.* 

The depth of water in which the trawlers work is 
generally from twenty to thirty fathoms ; very rarely 
in as much as fifty fathoms, and then only in one or 
two particular localities. The most important and 
extensive trawling grounds are in the North Sea ; and 
among the numerous grounds in the neighbourhood of 
the Doggerbank, to which names have been given, and 
which are resorted to year after year by hundreds of 
trawlers, according to the season, are the Inner and 
Outer Well Banks, the Great Silver Pit, and Botany 
Gut. The Great Silver Pit was discovered in a very 
severe winter, about 1843. Trawlers were then only 
feeling their way in the North Sea, and the vessels 
which worked there were very few. But in the course 
of their explorations they came on this particular 
locality, and for many miles in an easterly and westerly 
direction, the soles, then driven into deep water by the 
extreme cold, had congregated in such myriads, that 
the oldest trawler had never seen such a sight as was 
presented by the trawl nets, after being worked over 

* Since the above was written, thirty*nine trawl smacks, with 
crews of 228 men and hoys, have heen totally lost in the North 
Sea. It is belieyed that this unprecedented loss of fisObiing craft 
took place during one terrible gale, in January 1877, when 
upwards of 100 other trawlers were more or less (Usabled. 


this ground. The news soon got abroad, and a migra- 
tion of trawlers took place to the North Sea from 
Brixham and Ramsgate, then coming into notice as a 
trawling station. When the weather broke up, how- 
ever, the soles dispersed ; but the trawlers thenceforth 
gave more attention to the North Sea, and year after 
year, up to the present time, the number of North Sea 
trawlers has increased, with the result of a propor- 
tionate increase in the supply of fish from this great 
fishing ground. In any very severe winter, or, as it 
is called, a " Pit season," the trawlers still work the 
Great Silver Fit with wonderful results, and every 
winter the catches of soles there are on a large scale, 
but varying very much with the temperature of the 
season. Nearer the land there are many banks on the 
Norfolk and Lincolnshire coasts, others feurther south 
off Hastings and in mid-channel ; whilst in the west, 
the Brixham and Plymouth grounds, small though 
they are, have long been productive of a large supply 
of fish of various kinds, according to the season. On 
the east and south coasts of Ireland, also, and recently 
on the south-west coast of Scotland, trawling has 
proved a successful and profitable method of fishing. 
No more conclusive evidence against the outcry which 
is periodically made by alarmists in the [newspapers, 
that the trawlers are ruining our sea fisheries, can be 
brought forward, than the simple fact that, at the 
present time, the Brixham men have a larger num- 
ber of trawl vessels, are catching more fish, and 
making more money, than they have ever done since 
Brixham was a fishing port, and the majority of their 
vessels are now working over the same limited ground 


throughout the year, as they have fished on for the last 
hundred years ; and in the winter the whole fleet finds 
profitable occupation there. The evidence afforded by 
the Brixham fishery is very important, for there is 
little doubt of Brixham being the oldest trawling 
station, and, as it is often called, the *' mother port of 
the trawlers." 

I have previously spoken of the two classes into 
which, for market purposes, trawl fish are divided, 
** prime" and ^'ofGd;" and I may now say a few 
words about the average proportion of the one to the 
other, which is obtained in a year's fishing. It is im- 
possible to speak of a daily or weekly average, as in the 
North Sea many of the trawlers work afiier particular 
kinds of fish during certain seasons. Some specially 
seek after haddock or plaice on grounds where those fish 
at a certain time of year are known to be abundant. 
Almost all the catch under these circumstances would 
count as ^'ofiGal," although a ready market would be 
found for it; at other times soles may be worked 
for on the same system, and a large proportion of the 
catch would be of a " prime " description ; others again 
may fish on ground where the take would be varied. 
The average value of each kind of fishing may pro- 
bably not differ materially from that of the others ; for 
where prime fish forms the bulk of the catch, the 
quantity is likely to be small, and its total value may 
not exceed that of the frequent very large hauls, mostly 
of the commoner fish or *' offiil." Both kinds are con- 
stantly wanted, and the price of each varies according 
to the supply sent in. From a careful record kept by 
Mr. Henry Knott, of Orimsby, of the actual produce 


of one of his smacks during each of five following 
years, and which may be taken as fairly representing 
the work of a trawler with average success, we may 
put the proportion of prime to ofi&il as about one-fifth ; 
but the money obtained for even that small proportion 
of the best fish, was more than twice as much as was 
received for the larger quantity of inferior kinds. 
This record was of a North Sea trawler ; but at Brix- 
ham, where large quantities of red mullet are landed 
in the latter part of the summer, the proportion of 
prime fish would probably be larger, and the money 
returns increased. Bed mullet are mostly confined to 
the south and west of England, and they are there 
properly included among the prime fish. 

Haddocks and plaice are caught in almost incredible 
numbers in the North Sea; and some years ago the 
former were looked upon as almost worthless, for the 
means of selling them fresh, before the extension of 
railways from the coast, were extremely limited ; but 
now, in addition to the increased demand for the fresh 
fish, the practice of drying and smoking the haddock 
is so largely adopted, that every one of them that 
comes to market is sure of finding a purchaser. 

The number of sea-going trawlers now working on 
the English coasts cannot be less than between 1600 
and 1700 ; and of these more than 1200 systematically 
fish in the North Sea. 

I may here say a few words on a subject to which 
the attention of fishermen may be profitably directed, 
viz. the spawning habits of sea-fish. There is nothing 
about which they speak with greater confidence than 


of fish, of almost every kind which they are accus- 
tomed to catch, having certain grounds which they 
frequent at particular seasons for the purpose of 
depositing their ova. Yet it will hardly be credited 
that the herring is the only one of those fish whose 
sjMiiwn has ever been found on the ground. And the 
evidence on this point is by no means only of a nega- 
tive character. During the last ten years Professor 
G. O. Sars, under the direction of the Swedish Govern- 
ment, has been investigating the subject of fish-spawn- 
ing, and has obtained the most positive evidence of 
the ova of several of our best-known fish floating at 
the surface during the whole period of their develop- 
ment. Among those whose ova have been found float- 
ing, and have been successfully hatched out, and the 
young fish identified beyond a doubt, are the cod and 
haddock. If such be the case with these two species 
of the same genus, there is hardly room to doubt that 
the very closely allied species, such as the whiting, 
coalfish, pollack, hake, and tusk, have precisely the 
same habit of spawning at the surface. The spawning 
of the mackerel at the surface has been repeatedly 
seen, and the floating ova have been collected in all 
stages of development, and thoroughly identified. 
Still more surprising is the fact, that Professor Sars 
and M. Malm have independently discovered on 
different parts of the Norwegian coast, that the com- 
mon plaice, regarded by naturalists as the typical 
representative of the family Pleuronectidce, which in- 
cludes all our various kinds of fiat fish, has precisely 
the same habit of spawning at or near the surface, and 


that the ova of this fish also float during the whole 
period of development. This has been proved by both 
the naturalists I have mentioned ; and there is every 
reason to believe that turbot, brill, sole, and other 
closely allied species, do not differ in this respect from 
their very near relation, the common plaice. Professor 
Sars has lately succeeded in hatching the eggs of the 
gar-fish, also found floating ; and as he has been suc- 
cessful in hatching three or four other kinds of ova, 
the young fish from which he could not positively 
identify, and as he is continuing his investigations, we 
may look forward to further information from him 
on this interesting and important subject. I have 
omitted to mention the gurnard among the species 
whose floating ova he has also identified. It is obvious, 
therefore, that the idea that fish as a rule deposit their 
ova on the ground, is a mistaken one ; and the bearing 
of these discoveries on the possible destruction of fish 
spawn by the trawl nets, and the consequent injury to 
our sea-fisheries, need hardly be pointed out Had I 
space at my command, I might also bring forward 
strong evidence to show that the periodical visits of 
certain fishes to our coasts are not necessarily for 
spawning purposes, as is generally believed. It is 
true that large numbers of herrings come near the 
shore when they are ready to spawn, and that they do 
spawn there ; but vast numbers of herrings which are 
not at all in spawning condition also come in. There is 
no fish which comes nearer the land at certain seasons 
than the mackerel; but there is not the slightest 
doubt about this fish spawning in the open sea; in 


fact, it enters oar bays and harbonrs mostly after the 
spawning is oyer. The subject of the spawning habits 
of sea-fish is a yery interesting one, and I haye now 
noticed it, in the hope that it may receiye more atten- 
tion than hitherto from fishermen and persons who 
haye opportonities of studying it along our extensiye 
line of coast. 


Tms mode of fishing has been in use for many cen- 
turies; and although there is no eyidence to show 
where it originated, or when it was first adopted in this 
country, there is eyery reason to belieye that the long- 
famous Yarmouth herring fishery, of which we hear 
as early as the sixth century, has always been carried 
on by means of drift nets. The importance of drift- 
net fishing is shown by the fact, that it is the only 
method by which fishes such as herrings, mackerel, 
and pilchards, which generally Bwim at or near the 
surface, can be readily caught in the open sea, at any 
distance from the land, and in any depth of water 
suibcient for the nets to float in their proper position. 

The term " drift nets " is deriyed from the manner 
in which the nets are worked. They are neither 
fixed, towed, nor hauled within any precise limits of 
water ; but are cast out or " shot," the technical ex- 
pression for throwing out or putting a net into the 
water, at any distance from the land where there are 
signs of fish, and are allowed to drift in any direction 


that the tide may happen to take them, until it is 
thought desirable to haul them in. When at work, they 
are extended in a long single line, it may be one or two 
miles in length, their upper edge being supported at 
or near the surface by means of floats, the nets hang- 
ing perpendicularly in the water, and forming, as it 
were, a perforated wall or barrier many hundred yards 
long and several yards deep. The shoals of fish, in 
their endeavours to pass through this barrier, force 
their heads into the meshes, the size of the mesh used 
depending on whether herrings, mackerel, or pilchards 
are expected to be caught, and being such as to allow 
the head and gill-covers to enter, but not to permit 
the thicker body of the fish to go through. When the 
fish has found its way through the net beyond the gill- 
covers, it may generally be considered as effectually 
meshed ; there is, indeed, little chance of its escape, 
for the mesh is only large enough for a fish of average 
size to push its way so far, when the gill-covers are laid 
close to the body ; but it is necessary for them to open 
again that the fish may breathe, that is, that the water 
which enters the mouth may, with the air it contains, 
pass over the gills, and after purifying the blood with- 
in them, just as the air we take into our lungs purifies 
the blood they contain, escape through the gill opening 
on each side of the head« As this is taking place, and 
the fish is at the same time hampered by the net, the 
mesh slips forward and catches in the gill opening, 
from which it cannot easily be cleared without more or 
less injury to the fish. In drift-net fishing, then, the 
nets act as barriers to intercept the moving shoals, and 


the fifih become meshed in their attempts to pass 

It is foand that certain conditions are fayonrable for 
drift-net fishing. It will be readily understood that 
the more indistinct the net is in the water, the more 
likely the fish are to swim against it and to become 
meshed. The night is therefore, with extremely rare 
exceptions, the time chosen for drift fishing ; and it is 
noticed that just after sunset and just before sunrise, 
when the change is taking place from light to dark- 
ness, or the reverse, herrings especially are most likely 
to " strike " the net, as it is called. This is a point in 
connection with the habits of the herring which is 
little understood. A ripple on the surface of the 
water is also a fayonrable condition ; and this is easily 
explained; for if the surface of the sea be at all 
broken, such light as falls upon it is reflected by every 
little wave, and therefore does not penetrate to the 
nets so as to make them visible. Some very interest- 
ing observations have also been made on the Scotch 
coast, with respect to the temperature of the sea during 
the herring season, and its possible relation to a suc- 
cessful fishery. The late Marquis of Tweeddale, who 
was President of the Meteorological Society of Scot- 
land, provided a number of deep-sea thermometers to 
be used by the fishery officers and the fishermen, for 
the purpose of testing the temperature of the sea at 
different periods of the fishery. The results for the 
years 1874 and 1875 only have as yet been made public, 
and the Committee of the Society state that the con- 
clusions arrived at must therefore only be considered 

. B 2 


a4i proyisional ; but they point to a high degree of 
temperature in the sea being unfavourable to fishing, 
and that when the sea is found to be colder in any one 
district than in that on' either side of it, the herrings 
are more abundant and the fishery is more successful 
in the colder than in the warmer water. The com- 
mittee also state, as quoted in the Beport of the Scotch 
Fishery Board of the fishery of 1876, that "the in- 
fluence of thunderstorms was equally seen as in former 
years. If there is a thunderstorm of some magnitude, 
extending over a large portion of the east of Scotland, 
good takes may be made on that day, but on the follow- 
ing day, few if any fish are caught over that part of 
the coast, unles8 at the extreme verge of a deep part of 
the sea^ as if the fish were retreating thither." Obser- 
vations on the influence of winds and the temperature 
of the sea have also been made by the Dutch fisher- 
men ; and Herr von Freedon, of Hamburg, Director 
of the German See Warte, believes, from an analysis 
of these observations, that a temperature of from 53 
to 57 degrees of Fahrenheit is most favourable for the 
herring fishing, and that the chances of success 
diminish with higher or lower temperatures. These 
investigations are of very great interest ; and if the 
results do not teach the fishermen how to make a suc- 
cessful fishing every year, they may at all events 
account for failure when it does occur, and so prevent 
a repetition of the mischief, which, before now, has 
been caused by the senseless cry that the fisheries are 
being ruined. There are many problems to be solved 
in connection with the movements of wandering fishes, 


like the herring, mackerel, pilchard, and sprat ; and 
any bit of information which we can gain about their 
habits may help materially to guide us in our sub- 
sequent inquiries. 

For a description of drift nets and the mode of 
working them on a large scale, I cannot do better 
than give some account of the method by which the 
Yarmouth herring fishery has long been carried on. 
Drift fishing, "drifting," or "driving," asitisyariously 
called, although the last term is the one in general 
use among the fishermen, is there worked with fine 
sea-going decked boats, larger in every way than 
those similarly used on other parts of our coasts ; and 
the fishermen can consequently venture farther to sea, 
and run the chance of worse weather, than most of the 
smaller boats are capable of doing with a due regard to 

The nets used for drift fishing are made either of 
cotton or hemp — " twine," as the latter is called, some 
fishermen preferring the one material, some the other ; 
and it is not unusual for the two kinds to be placed 
alternately in the same train of nets. Cotton nets are 
finer in the line and more flexible than those made of 
hemp, and they are generally believed to be more 
effective in meshing the fish. Machinery of a very 
beautiful and ingenious character is employed in 
making these nets, and large supplies have been for 
some years past turned out from the factories at Brid* 
port, Musselburgh, and many other towns. Cotton 
nets are now very largely used, and there is every 
reason to think they will be universally employed for 


all kinds of drift fishing. When new, tbey are first 
saturated with linseed oil, then squeezed through a 
machine, afterwards dried, which takes some days, and, 
finally they are put into a yat, and hot bark liquor is 
poured upon them ; in this they remain for two or 
three days. The bark liquor is a preparation in which 
catechu is an important ingredient, it having practi- 
cally superseded the oak bark formerly used for tan- 
ning nets. In some cases the nets are dressed with 
coal tar instead of being barked. The herring nets 
come from the factory in ^' pieces " 60 yards long and 
9 or 10 yards deep, the depth of the net containing 
200 meshes; and it is the custom of the fishermen, 
when speaking of the size of a net, to say it is so many 
yards long and so many meshes deep, as the case may 
be. Each piece is divided into two nets 30 yards long. 
When a net is prepared for use, it is '^ mounted," or 
fastened lengthwise along one edge to a small line 
only 18 or 20 yards long, that length of line being 
appropriated to the 30 yards of net, so that the '' lint," 
or netting, is set slack, and gives way a little when the 
fish strike it; and from its flexibility the net holds 
the fish better than would be the case if it were 
fully stretched. The ends of the net are called the 
'^ heads," the roped edge of the length the " back," as 
that is uppermost when the net is in the water, and 
the lower edge the '^ foot " or " sole." The heads are 
roped, as well as the back; but the foot is usually 
left free, so as to be less likely to hitch in anything at 
the bottom, when the nets chance to be used in ratiier 
shoal water or near the ground. The back of the net 


is further fastened at intervals of a few inches by very 
short lines called '* nossles," to the cork-rope, a small 
doable rope enclosing at various distances pieces of 
cork as floats, to keep that part of the net uppermost. 
The number of such nets used by each vessel depends 
very much on her size, and ranges from eighty to one 
hundred and thirty. They are fastened together end 
to end, and, thus united, form what is called a " train, 
fleet, or drift of nets," frequently extending to a length 
of more than a mile and a quarter. The mesh in a 
herring net is about an inch and a quarter square, equi* 


▼alent to thirty or thirty-two meshes to the yard when 
the net is new ; but after long use and frequent barking 
or tarring, it becomes contracted to an inch, or even less. 
Twine nets have been hitherto netted by hand, and 
for convenience in the manufacture, are usually made 
up of several narrow pieces called " deepings," which 
are laced together one below the other, there being 
three or four deepings in the depth of a net. Twiae 
nets are much heavier than those made of cotton, and 
consequently involve more labour in working them. 
There can be no doubt also that from the greater 
stiffiiess of the meshes, the fish are not so readily caught 
in them. On the other hand, it has been said that 
more fish are lost from cotton nets, the sharpness of 
the fine cotton-mesh cutting into the neck of the fish, 
and tearing off the head when the fish hangs from the 
mesh whilst the nets are being hauled on board. This 
objection, however, cannot be a very serious one, or 
cotton nets would not be so largely employed as is now 
the case. 


There are still one 6t two things to be noticed, 
before I come to speak of the working of the drift 
nets. I have already mentioned the corks on the 
cork-rope, as specially intended to keep the back of the 
net uppermost. These floats in ordinary nets are 
merely placed there for that purpose, and are not 
meant to keep the nets at the surface. The weight of 
the net is considerable, and it is desirable that they 
should be heavy enough to sink, because the herrings 
do not always rise to the surface; it is necessary, 
therefore, to manage so as to place the nets where it is 
likely the herrings will be. This is, of course, a 
matter of uncertainty; but the fishermen judge from 
the state of the weather, and other signs, how far the 
nets should be sunk. There is, howeyer, some diffi- 
culty about this too ; sometimes they hit on the right 
distance, sometimes no fish are caught. The failure 
may be from the nets being too high or too low, or it 
may be from the absence of fish in that part of the sea. 
In any case the nets have to be buoyed up, and for 
this purpose small kegs, termed " bowls," are used, and 
one of them is fastened by a rope to each of the nets, 
the rope being long enough to allow the nets to sink 
several fathoms ; or, if thought desirable, it may be so 
shortened as to bring the net close to the surface. It 
is found convenient to colour the bowls, so as to mark 
the different parts of the fleet of nets. The first net is 
marked by a small white bowl, called the *' puppy," 
and at the end of the first four nets is a " dan," or 
buoy, with a pole carrying a small flag. The rest of 
the nets are marked in four divisions; at the first 


quarter from the pole is a bowl painted one quarter red 
and three qnarters white ; the next is half red and 
half white; and at the commencement of the last 
division the bowl is three qnarters red and one quarter 
white. The intermediate bowls are all black. The 
only other part of the apparatus is the warp, a stoat 
rope, to which each net is made fast by two small 
ropes called " seizings." The object of having this 
warp is to facilitate the hauling in of the nets, to take 
off the direct strain upon them when this is being 
done, and to prevent any of them being lost, in case 
of their being cut through by accident. Drift nets 
being used almost entirely at night, and often ex- 
tending for a long distance in the course of vessels 
passing up or down the coast, are sometimes liable to 
be damaged by these vessels running over or through 
them; and if by chance the train of nets is thus divided, 
the warp which hangs below and is fastened to each 
one holds the nets together, and prevents any serious 
loss from the nets being carried away. 

All the vessels used in the Yarmouth fishery are 
decked; the largest of them, about 36 tons, N.M., 
being 52 feet on the keel, with 17 feet beam, and 
7 feet depth of hold. They are lugger-rigged, with 
two masts only, and carry a jib, a large dipping fore- 
lug, and a working mizen and topsail. The mizen- 
mast is always kept standing ; but to enable the vessel 
to ride easier when fishing, the large foremast is fitted 
so as to lower backwards, on the same principle as may 
be seen any day in the Thames barges, or in vessels 
which have to pass under bridges in inland navigation. 


The mast in these Yarmonth luggers is, however, not 
lowered completely on deck, where it would be very 
much in the way when the nets are being hauled in, 
but is kept for the greater part of its length at such a 
distance from the deck as to allow plenty of room 
below it for the men to move about and work. It is 
supported about the middle by a broad upright piece 
of wood called a '* mitch-board," and which has a 
crutch at the top on which the mast rests. The same 
kind of support for the mast is used in all drift-fishing 
boats of any size, whether decked or open, but it is 
not always of precisely the same form. 

The internal fittings in these luggers are in accord- 
ance with the requirements and convenience of the 
fishery, and the hold is divided into compartments for 
the fish, nets, warp, &c. A considerable quantity of 
salt is carried by the Yarmouth boats, as a good 
sprinkling of this preservative is desirable to ensure 
the delivery of the fish in good order, after having been 
perhaps caught for many hours. 

As many as from nine to twelve men form the crew 
of one of these large fishing-boats. Time is valuable 
in drift fishing ; for if the fish are abundant, the nets 
are not allowed to remain long in the water, but are 
hauled in and shot again without delay. All this is 
very laborious work ; and more than half the crew are 
not regular fishermen, being merely shipped for the 
season as " capstan-men," many of them being country- 
men, or persons who have very little experience at sea, 
but who have strong arms for working at the capstan, 
by which the warp, and with it the nets, are hauled in. 


The time nniyersallj chosen for putting out, or 
"shootiog" the nets, as it is called, is just before 
sunset ; and the vessel being in what the master has 
reason to think is a likely place for fish — a point, 
however, about which there is generally some specula- 
tion, she is put before the wind, and as she sails 
slowly along, the net is shot over her quarter, that 
is, over the side near the stern. Whilst this is 
going on, the men are distributed at regular stations, 
some handing up the net from below, others throwing 
it over and taking care that it falls in the right posi- 
tion, others, again, looking after the warp and seeing 
that the '* seizings " are made fiEist to it in their proper 
places. When all the net is overboard, and fifteen or 
twenty fathoms of extra warp, termed the " swing-rope," 
are paid out, the warp is carried from the stem to the 
bow of the vessel; she is then brought round head 
to wind, the ordinary sails are taken in, the mast is 
lowered till it rests in the crutch of the mitch-board, 
a small mizen sail, called the <' drift-mizen," is set to 
keep her head to wind, and the regulation lights are 
put up to show that the vessel is fishing. A certain 
number of men then remain on deck as the watch, and 
the vessel and nets drift with the tide. 

It is important that a strain should be kept on the 
nets so as to extend them ; it will therefore be readily 
understood why the nets are shot in the direction in which 
the wind, much or little, is blowing ; for the vessel being 
to leeward of the nets when they are in the water, and 
offering of course more resistance to the wind than 
ihey do, drifts more rapidly, and consequently pulls 


upon the nets and keeps them comparatively straight. 
In Loch Fyne and other large inlets of the sea, where, 
in the summer nights, the surrounding hills keep off 
any little air of wind there may be stirring in the 
neighbourhood, and where the boats are small and 
fishing in large numbers close together, great con- 
fusion sometimes occurs from the nets of different 
boats becoming entangled ; but such a thing rarely 
happens at sea, where there is more room, and the 
faintest air is felt by the fishing boat. When there is 
a great deal of wind, more swing-rope is allowed, and 
the vessel sometimes rides to the nets with as much as 
100 fftthoms of clear warp out, the " spring" of the 
warp under such circumstances easing the strain on 
the nets. 

Whilst the nets are in the water, the warp is occa- 
sionally hauled in till the first net is reached ; this is 
called the " look-on " net, and by examining it, some 
idea may generally be formed of whether many her- 
rings are about, or the dogfish are numerous. The 
latter are at times very mischievous, and do a great 
deal of damage to both the fish and the nets if they 
are left long in the water. 

I now come to hauling in the nets ; this operation 
is performed in the same systematic manner as I 
spoke of just now in connection with shooting the nets, 
the men being told off to their regular stations, and 
each having his appointed duty. I need only men- 
tion, however, that the " capstan-men " are now im- 
portant persons, for the capstan is the means by which 
the warp and nets are got on board. As soon as the 


fish are all shaken oat of the nets, they are sprinkled 
with salt and then stowed away in their proper com« 
partments in the hold of the vessel. When the night's 
fishing is over, the mast is got upright again, the sails 
are set, and the vessel either returns to port, or, if the 
catch of fish has been small, shifts to a fiiesh berth for 
the next night's work. 

Drift nets for mackerel are made and worked on 
precisely the same principle ; but as these fish generally 
keep near the top of the water, the nets are well 
corked so as to make them float quite at the surface, 
and there is no occasion for such a depth of netting as 
is used when fishing for herrings. A " fleet or train " 
of mackerel nets, as used by the Yarmouth boats, is, 
however, of very great length, and is made up of 
eleven or twelve score of nets, extending to as much 
as 2j^ miles, or double that of a herring fleet. The 
meshes are of course larger than those in a herring 
net, there being usually twenty-two or twenty-three to 
the yard. Cotton is also being adopted for mackerel 
nets, whenever the old twine ones become unfit for 
use ; but the change is only being made gradually, as 
the outlay necessary for a complete fieet of mackerel 
nets is very large. 

Pilchard drift-nets, principally used on the coast of 
Gomwall, are about the size of those used for herrings, 
with a slightly smaller mesh. Shrunk herring-nets 
are frequently employed in the pilchard fishery, when 
the meshes have become too small for their original 

The circumstances which guide the drift fishermen 


in their selection of any particular spot for fishing, are 
commonly of a very uncertain character, and at times 
there is nothing more to influence them than their 
knowledge that the flsh were in some particular 
locality or at a certain distance from the land at a 
corresponding period in former seasons. At the com- 
mencement of the fishing season, they can only be 
guided by such considerations ; but when the fish are 
becoming more abundant and occasionally showing 
themselves at the surface, what is called the " appear- 
ance of fish," that is, large collections of sea birds and 
the presence of whales and the smaller species of 
cetacea, are a tolerably sure indication of there being 
plenty of fish in the neighbourhood. There must 
necessarily be a great deal of uncertainty in a fishery 
of this kind, for practically there is nothing known of 
the causes which influence the shoals of fish in their 
daily movements, although it seems probable that the 
greater or less abundance of food is an important one. 
The phosphorescent light produced at times by my- 
riads of minute medusas and other marine animals 
when disturbed, especially in calm warm weather, is 
frequently made use of by the fishermen in their 
search for herrings, and often leads to the discovery 
of fish when other indications are absent. The light 
is called by the fishermen by the names of " briming," 
" waterburn," or, on the Northumberland coast, " mar- 
fire." When the water is in this condition, the slightest 
agitation, as is well known, produces sparks or flashes 
of light ; and the presence of fish is often indicated by 
the streaks of light which are caused by their snd- 


denly darting through the water. These Bigns of fish 
are sometimeB observed as the fishing boat is rowed 
along oyer the calm sea; but I have also seen the 
fishermen produce a more decided efieot \yj rapping 
with a piece of wood against the planks of the boat 
nearest the water ; now and then a fish would betray 
itself bj a line of light as it darted away, and when 
these indications became more numerous, it was de- 
cided to shoot the nets. This luminous condition of 
the water, however, is not very favourable for fishing, 
although I have seen moderate hauls made under 
such circumstances. The water is then usually too 
clear and the nets are too dislj^nct for the fish to strike 
freely ; and, beautiful as the illuminated nets appear 
as they are drawn through the water, the fishermen 
have then generally good reason to expect the result 
of their night's labour will not be very large. 

The seasons for drift; fishing depend of course on 
the kind of fish sought for, whether herrings, mackerel, 
pilchards, or sprats ; for although the last-mentioned 
fish is principally caught in the stow-net and sean, 
drift nets are also used for it on a certain limited part 
of the coast. But the seasons for the same kind of 
fish — we may take the herring as a notable example — 
also vary according to the different parts of the coast ; 
and this difference in the seasons leads to much larger 
captures in the course of the year than would other- 
wise be the case, for the boats from several districts 
are commonly enabled to unite in working succes- 
sively at different stations, instead of being confined 
to their own. Thus many of the Scotch fishermen 


from the east coast come south as far as Yarmonth in 
October and November for the herring fishery, which 
is then in fall work in that neighbourhood, and the 
Yarmouth men begin their fishing in July very much 
farther north than the coast of Norfolk. The old 
theory of the migration of the herring is now alto- 
gether out of date; and such evidence as has been 
obtained of the habits of this fish, leads to the belief 
that the only definite changes of locality it makes are 
from deep water, more or less distant from the land, to 
shoaler water near the shore, or the reverse. The 
object of these movements has yet to be explained. 
"Where there is very deep water not very far from the 
land, herrings are likely to be found more or less at 
all times of the year, as seems to be the case par- 
ticularly at the Outer Hebrides. There are certain 
months, however, in which they regularly make their 
appearance, and are successfully fished for on a great 
part of the coast of the British Islands. The fishery 
season, although not at the same period in all parts, 
is tolerably regular for each district ; and this, taken 
in conjunction with the fact that certain districts are 
commonly visited by fish having particular characters 
of size or appearance, which according to many of the 
salesmen are sufficient to enable them to speak with 
some confidence as to where they were caught, con- 
firms the growing opinion that herrings do not move 
very far from their native waters. 

Enough is known of their movements, to justify the 
belief in two very distinct arrivals of these fish on 
many parts of our coast, wherever they may come 


firom, prodncing the snmmer or antmnn, and winter 
fisherieB. In some districts the winter herrings are 
not observed ; in others, they are seen but not fished 
for, as the bad weather at that time often interferes 
materially with systematic work, or other and more 
profitable fisheries may claim the attention of the 
fishermen. In other places, again, the winter fishery 
is the only one in the district. 

The great herring harvest is almost everywhere 
gathered in during the second half of the year. From 
the Shetlands, by the east coast of Scotland, almost 
down to the Hnmber, the herring fishery takes place 
from July to September. It is rather later, however, 
about Flamborough Head, and the home fishery at 
Yarmouth and Lowestoft is from September to the 
end of November. In the Channel the general fishery 
is still later, although small fat herrings are often 
taken by the Hastings boats during the mackerel 
season in June. At Bamsgate, October and November 
are the regular months ; but in the west, the fishery 
takes place quite in the last part of the year, and in 
the more distant parts, even in January or the begin- 
ning of February, running into the period when the 
vdnter fishery, as distinct from the autumn one, is 
carried on along both coasts of Scotland. It might 
be supposed that as the herrings appear on our ex- 
treme northern coasts at the beginning of the general 
fishing season, and are gradually later as we proceed 
south, there was some foundation for the old theory^ of 
migration, and that the fish caught in the Channel in 
December are the remains of the shoals which were 



on the coast of Scotland in Angnst ; bnt, as we sball 
see, the condition of the fish at the different places is 
opposed to such an idea. In the north the herrings 
are '' fall " in August and at the beginning of Sep- 
tember ; then they spawn and disappear. Those 
caught in the neighbourhood of Yarmouth are not 
in the best condition — ^that is, full of roe — ^till Oc- 
tober and November. It is extremely imlikely, 
therefore, that they should belong to the great 
shoals which were spawning two months earlier in 
the north. Again, at the eastern end of the Channel 
the fish are full in November ; but on the Cornish 
coast and in the west generally, the herrings are not 
in spawning condition till December, or even a month 
later. These differences appear to point to the shoals 
being distinct and somewhat local, and are quite in- 
consistent with any theory of general migration from 
the Arctic Sea. 

At the Outer Hebrides and on the west coast of 
Scotland, the herring fishery begins in some places as 
early as April, and goes on continuously till nearly 
the end of September, when the herrings spawn ; and 
a separate winter fishery is carried on in January and 
February. The fishermen in these parts say that the 
herrings are always on that coast, but of course vary 
in their condition at different times. The spawning 
seasons there appear to be in September and February 
or March. 

When we come to the Firth of Clyde, with the long- 
fjEunous fisheries in Lochfyne and the Eyles of Bute, we 
find that the herring season is from June to September ; 


bnt according to tbe fifihermen of Lochfyne— and there 
is not the slightest reason to doubt the accuracy of 
their statements in this matter — some herrings may be 
caught in parts of Lochfyne throughout the year. 

The Isle of Man fishery begins on the western side 
of the island in June, and finishes on the eastern side 
in October, when the fish are observed to be in spawning 

The herring fishery on the north of Ireland is from 
July to September, and rather later on the east coast 
— that is, in the Irish Channel — where an important 
fishing is carried on, and in which Scotch, Manx, and 
Oomish, as well as Irish boats take part. On the 
south and south-west of Ireland there appear to be 
two seasons— one lasting from May or June to Sep- 
tember or October, and the other from Christmas to 
the beginning of March— the fish being in spawning 
condition at the close of each of these seasons. On 
the Atlantic side, however, the herring fishery is very 
, uncertain, as the coast is too much exposed for regular 
deep-sea fishing to be carried on at night without con- 
siderable risk, even if the fishermen were provided 
with proper boats and gear, and had their hearts in 
their work; and the fish do not always come far 
enough into the deep bays on that coast to be caught 
in large numbers. In Gkilway Bay, however, many 
good fisheries have been made, and if the fishermen 
there were more peaceably disposed — the Claddagh 
men especially — more profitable work would be accom- 
plished by them. 

The drift-fishery for mackerel is principally on the 

F 2 


English and Irish coasts. Mackerel appear at first in 
deep water on the sonth and south-west of the British 
Islands, and are canght sometimes as early as January, 
sixty miles west of the Land's End. The general 
Cornish fishery, however, usually commences about the 
end of February, and lasts till some time in June. 
May, June, and July are, probably, the most produc- 
tive months for mackerel fishing by drift-nets on the 
English coast. After the mackerel have spawned, 
which they do for the most part in June and early in 
July, the process taking place at the surface, as is well 
authenticated, the shoals disperse, and the fish, then' 
readily taking a bait, are caught in large numbers by 
hook and line. At this time, also, they come very near 
the land, and consequently within reach of numbers of 
persons who fish only for amusement. The time when 
this popular sport is most successful is during the 
month of August, but it frequently lasts far into Sep- 
tember along our western coast. Half-grown fish are 
also caught at times in the herring drift-nets off, 
Hastings in October and November. 

The mackerel fishery on the Scotch coasts is very 
unimportant, and drift-nets for the purpose are, so far 
as I know, unused there. A few mackerel are caught 
in Lochfyne and near the mouth of the Clyde in 
August, but only by the scan. The mackerel season 
at the Isle of Man is from June to August, but the 
fishery there again is not of much importance. 

It is very different, however, when we come to the 
south of Ireland; and I am glad to say, that the 
Einsale fishery has for some years been of considerable 


consequence, not only to the fishermen of the locality, 
but also to the Manxmen and some Comishmen, who 
resort to that neighbourhood at the proper season. 
This fishery is mnch the same as on the south coast of 
Cornwall, and lasts from March to June. 

The drift-fishery for pilchards may be said to be 
practically confined to the Cornish coast ; for, although 
many pilchards are annually caught along the south 
coast of Devonshire, these fish are not by any means 
abundant so fiAr eastward, and, when they are taken 
there, it is more frequently with the ground-sean than 
by drifting. Pilchard fishing by drift-nets begins on 
the Cornish coast in July, and is carried on till nearly 
the end of the year. At first the fish are well out at 
sea, but as the season advances they come so near the 
land as to be within reach of the scans; and the 
pilchard drift-boats are forbidden by law to fish within 
half a mile of where the latter nets are being used. 
This restriction is to prevent any interference with a 
method of fishing which, if the pilchards are not dis- 
turbed when close inshore, has frequently proved, and 
may again in any year be, most successful and profit- 
able. I may mention, that whilst most of the produce 
of the drift fishery is bought up for home consumption, 
the export trade in cured pilchards to the Mediterra- 
nean, and which has been carried on for a very great 
number of years, is almost dependent on the catches by 
the scan. St. Ives has long been celebrated for its sean 
-fishery and export trade in cured pilchards; and the 
returns that I shall give farther on of these exports, and 
their great fiuctuations from year to year, will show 

70 BRITISH industries/ 

how much may depend on whether or not the shoals of 
fish approach within a certain distance of a particular 
part of the coast favourable for seaning operations. 

The distance from the land, and the direction in 
which the pilchards are first met with every year on 
the Cornish coast, appear to vary within some con- 
siderable limits ; but it is probable that few of these 
fish are taken during the regular season farther at sea 
than ten or twelve miles, and they are usually south 
rather than west of the Land's End. On the south 
coast some of the shoals make an early approach to 
the land, and the fish are at the same time captured by 
both drift-nets and scans. They make an early ap- 
pearance also on the south coast of Ireland, but they 
are not generally found at St. Ives, or along the 
northern part of Cornwall, till October and November. 
It is believed that the shoals which strike the Irish 
coast afterwards go southwards, a few being occa- 
sionally met with at the mouth of the Bristol Channel, 
but most of them appearing first near the Cornish 
shore, a little north of St. Ives ; if they then in their 
course westward enter St. Ives Bay, the scans may do 
some profitable work ; the movements of the pilchard 
are, however, so capricious, that it is as likely as not 
that most of the shoals may pass at some distance from 
the land, and under these circumstances the scans find 
very little employment, and the newspapers report 
another unsuccessful season at St. Ives. 

There is little to be said about drift-fishing for 
sprats; it is only carried on about Bamsgate, Deal, 
and Hastings, by a few men in small boats, a short 


train of fine-meshed nntanned netting being UBed, with 
the result of some of the larger sprats being caught ; 
but the takes of these fish are so enormous every 
winter by the stow-nets, to be presently described, that 
the small number caught by drift-nets can hardly be 
considered as of more than local importance. 


Under this head I may speak of two methods of 
working in very general use by our sea fishermen. 
These are by long-lines and hand-lines. One very 
simple distinction between them is, that the latter are 
practically kept in the hand of the individual fisherman 
who uses them, whilst the former are put out or shot, 
and then lefb to themselves for a longer or shorter 
period, before the fishermen haul them in, and take off 
the hooks such fish as may have been caught. 

Both methods are employed on a large scale in the 
North Sea cod fishery, and it will be suf&cient for 
my purpose if I describe the manner in which the 
Grimsby cod fishermen regularly work with them. 

The long-line, spilliard, spiller, bulter, or trot, the 
names variously given to the same kind of line, accord- 
ing to locality or size, is used for the capture of many 
kinds of fish, and especially for cod, ling, holibut, and 
haddock, although turbot, skate, and other ground fish 
are also taken by it. 

Long-lining from Qrimsby is worked by means of 


large smacks like the trawl TesBels preyionsly de- 
scribed. They carry from nine to eleven hands each, 
and remain at sea until they have a fiair cargo of fish, 
part of the vessel being converted into a well to which 
the sea has free access, and in which as many of the 
cod as possible are kept alive nntil the vessel returns 
to port. A further description of this well will be 
given in subsequent pages, after I have spoken of the 
lines and the manner in which they are worked. 

A complete set of long- lines, as used in one of these 
vessels, consists of about fifteen dozen, or 180 lines, 
each forty fathoms in length, and supporting twenty- 
six hooks on short smaller lines called " snoods," which 
are fastened to the main line at a fathom and a half 
apart, that distance being sufficient to prevent the 
snoods fouling one another and the hooks becoming 
entangled. A " string " of this description, made up 
of the 180 lines of forty fathoms each, fastened together 
into one, is 7200 fathoms long, equal to more than 
seven nautical or geographical miles, or about eight 
ordinary ones, and has 4680 hooks. These are baited 
with the common large whelk, which, owing to its 
toughness and substance, is not easily washed off the 
hook, and is an attractive bait for both cod and ling. 
Baiting these numerous hooks takes up a good deal of 
time, and gives plenty of employment to the several 
hands on board, before the line is ready to be shot. 
Work commences about sunrise, or earlier if the 
weather is fine, and sometimes a second shot is made 
if there be time; but the lines are always hauled in 
before night, as unhooking the fish, coiling away the 




lines, and arranging the hooks in proper order, so as to 
be all clear for ninning on the next occasion, cannot 
be well done in the dark. Method is reqnisite even 
in the management of fishing lines, whether thej are 
in use or in preparation for it. The line is always 
laid across the tide, so that the snoods may drift clear 
of the main line from which they hang. When a 
" shot " is to be made, the smack 
is put under easy sail, and kept 
with the wind as free as is possi- 
ble consistently with crossing the 
tide, so as to make a fftir straight 
course while the line is being 
paid out. The lines are neatly 
eoiled in trays, and the baited 
hooks arranged in regular order 
for going overboard, each tray 
containing from twelve to sixteen 
pieces, and they are paid out one 
after another, until the whole 
length of line runs out as the 
vessel goes on her course. No 
corks or floats are used to raise 
it off the ground, but the line is 
kept steady at every forty fathoms 
by a very small anchor, and its 
position at the two ends, and at every intermediate 
mile, is marked by a conical hooped buoy, called a 
*^ dan," having a pole or staff passing through it, and 
carrying a small flag. 

The line is usually shot at half-tide, and when the 

Buoy to Long-line. 


operation has been completed, the smack heaves-to in 
the neighbourhood of the last buoy, till the tide has 
nearly finished. The fishermen then proceed to haul 
up the line. The foresail of the vessel having been 
lowered to make room for the men to work at hauling 
in the line, and the end buoy having been got on board, 
the smack sails along the course of the line as straight 
as she can go, making short tacks when necessary, the 
direction of the line being shown by the buoys at each 
mile, which by practised eyes can be easily observed. 
The line is then hauled in as the vessel goes on, and 
the fish are taken off the hooks. If the wind be very 
light, and so much ahead that the vessel cannot closely 
follow the course of the line, the work is done from the 
smack's boat — a roomy one, about eighteen feet long, 
and with a well built in it, in which the fish can be 
kept alive for a time, until they can be put into the 
proper well of the vessel. As cod are not only the 
most valuable fish commonly taken by these lines, but 
also command a specially high price if they can be de- 
livered perfectly fresh to the mairket, every precaution 
is taken to keep them alive ; they are accordingly 
placed in the well of the vessel as soon as possible ; 
and a large proportion of those which are lively and 
vigorous when taken off the hook, are capable of bearing 
many days' confinement in this way without any appa- 
rent loss of condition. 

" Welled smacks," as they are called, were first tried 
in this country in 1712, at Harwich, and it has been 
said that the idea was taken from the Dutch fishermen. 
These vessels are specially constructed for the pur- 

LtsE Fiaama. 

pose; thewellnotbeing&tankfittfld into the veeselgbnt 
a part of the smaok itself. Two atrong watet-tight bulk- 
heads are bailt entiiely across the vessel from keelson 

to deck, enclosing a large space in the centre of the 
vessel. This foims the " well " (d) ; and a constant 


supply and circulation of water from the sea is kept up 
within it through large auger holes bored in the bottom 
of the vessel below the water-line, and between the 
two bulkheads. The entrance to the weU is on deck, 
through a hatchway (&) ; and in front and on each side 
of it, at a short distance above the water-line, is what is 
called the ^ well deck " (c), which keeps the level of the 
water within certain limits, when the smack is rolling 
about or pressed down under saiL Cod are the prin- 
cipal fish put into the well, and when they have been 
caught in no great depth of water, and are strong and 
lively when taken off the hook, they will live a long 
time under these circumstances. It is a curious fetct, 
however, that ling, which are usually taken in rather 
deep water, and cod from like situations, do not thrive 
in a vessel's well. Many deaths occur also among the 
general collection of cod, especially if they are nume- 
rous, and the vessel be exposed to bad weather, as the 
fish are then liable to be knocked about a good deal. 
A sharp look-out, however, is kept on them, and those 
which appear not likely to survive are taken out, 
killed, and packed in ice. Thus a cod-smack has gene- 
rally a large number of dead fish as well as live ones 
when she returns to port, the former consisting not 
only of the cod thus taken out of the well, but also of 
others, with ling and haddock, which were put into ice 
as soon as caught. It is no uncommon thing for a 
smack to return from the Dogger after ten days' fishing 
with from twenty to twenty-five score of fine live cod, 
besides, perhaps, two-thirds of that number of fish in 
106. Holibuta are easily kept alive in the well, and 


find a ready sale at good prices in the Qrimsby 

The cost of these welled-smacks is considerable, and 
more so than that of ^ dry-bottomed " vessels of the 
same size; the term ''dry-bottomed" being given to 
ordinary trawl-smacks and such fishing boats as have 
no well. This expression, however, would hardly be 
understood on those parts of our coast where welled- 
vessels are not used ; the distinction between the two 
classes is not bronght under the notice of the majority 
of our fishermen, for in most cases their knowledge of 
the various methods and appliances of fishing is con- 
fined to what are in use in their own localities. The 
working expenses of a line vessel are also greater than 
those of a trawler. Each cod-smack carries from nine 
to eleven hands, of whom six or seven are apprentices 
of different ages. The principle of paying by shares, 
so general among the trawlers, except in the case of 
the Barking men, is here only adopted in paying the 
captain. He receives nine per cent, of the proceeds of 
the " voyage;" the rest of the hands are paid weekly 
wages, the mate getting 24^. and the men 22«. each ; 
the apprentices receive from 6Z. to VM, a year, accord- 
ing to their length of service. These wages are higher 
than they were three or four years ago ; and I am 
glad to find, that the men who are exposed to all the 
hardships and rough work at sea which fall to the lot 
of those who catch the fish, have some share in the 
higher prices which, owing to the ever-increasing de- 
mand, fish of almost every kind now obtains in the 
market. Provisions for all hands are also found by 


the owner, without any deduction for them from the 
wages which are paid. 

Bait is an important item in the expenses of a cod* 
smack ; it comes next on the list after wages, provisions, 
and depreciation of vessel, and costs more than the 
wear and tear of sails and rigging, great as that must 
be, when a vessel has to keep her ground in all weathers, 
for ten days or a fortnight at a time, through a great 
part of the year in the rough waters of the North Sea. 
Whelks, or " buckies," as they are called in Scotland, 
are exclusively employed as bait on the long-lines in 
these smacks. They are not only attractive to the cod, 
but from their toughness they give a good hold to the 
hook. The collection of whelk-bait is a regular trade, 
in which many small craft of from about twelve to 
eighteen tons N. M. are constantly employed ; yet great 
difficulty is sometimes found in procuring a sufficient 
quantity for the purpose, the demand for whelks, in the 
London market especially, as an article of food among 
the poorer classes, interfering considerably with the 
supply of these shell-fish for the purpose of bait. A 
large number of whelks is obtained from the trawlers, 
but most of them are procured by special modes of 
fishing for them. At Grimsby, the plan is by shallow 
hoop-nets baited with refuse fish, and sunk to the 
bottom in suitable localities ; the whelks, being carni- 
vorous in their tastes, are attracted by the fish-bait, and 
collect in considerable numbers in the nets, from which 
they cannot readily escape when the nets are hauled 
up. Another plan is by baited baskets covered with 
netting at the top, except in the middle, by which the 


whelks enter. The oldest method, perhaps, is that 
called '* trotting," and is adopted especially about 
Harwich and near the month of the Thames. It is 
virtoally long-lining, but instead of having a hook at 
the end of each short line or '* snood " hanging from 
the main line, each snood is baited with the common 
shore crab, about twenty of these crabs being threaded 
on each line. The camiyorous prox>ensities of the 
whelks here again lead to their capture, for they feed 
eagerly on this crab-bait, and are so unwilling to leave 
it when disturbed, that there is no difficulty in hauling 
lines and whelks together into the boat. 

Some idea of the number of whelks required in the 
North Sea cod fishery may be gathered from the fact, 
that a smack takes with her on each " voyage '' during 
the regular long-line season, as many as forty wash of 
whelks ; the " wash " being a stamped measure capable 
of holding twenty-one quarts and a pint of water. At 
the close of the season, about March, a smaller quan- 
tity is sufficient The whelks are kept in net bags, and 
are placed in the vessel's well, wherd they remain alive 
till taken out for use ; the shells are then broken, and 
the animfds extracted. 

Dogfish are the great enemies of the long-line fisher- 
men, and in some seasons destroy immense numbers of 
the cod, after they are hooked and before the line has 
been hauled in. When the water is clear, the hooked 
fish can be seen at a considerable distance, and their 
struggles to get free only make them more likely to 
attract the attention of the shoals of prowling " dogs." 
Long-lining is only carried on by the Orimsby bqats 


during the winter — the time when cod are best fit for 
the table. Bather rough ground is usually selected, 
and the smacks work on the Dogger from Noyember to 
March or April, and on Cromer Enoll, a long-famoud 
bank on the Norfolk coast, from November to Fe- 
bruary. The Dogger has been celebrated as a cod- 
fishing bank for a great number of years, and still 
retains its character as very productive ground. 

In March or April long-lining is put a stop to, and 
very few line-cod are caught in the North Sea for the 
;aezt three months. Many of the smacks then go away 
to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and work with hand- 
lines for the cod which are found in more or less 
abundance in those localities. The fish caught there 
are always salted. 

In July the smacks return, and commence hand-line 
fishing in the home waters, at distances generally 
ranging from ten to thirty miles from the coast. The 
herrings are about this time approaching the land, and 
are always attended by large numbers of cod and other 
voracious species of fish, which, following their prey, 
do not then keep so near the bottom as is their usual 
habit. Hand-lining, consequently, becomes then a 
more effective mode of fishing than long-lining. The 
hand-line in use for this fishery is about forty-five 
fathoms long, having at the end a leaden sinker of 
from five and a half to seven pounds weight, with a 
stout iron wire, called the "sprawl-wire," fixed in it 
near the top at right angles to the upright body of the 
sinker, and slightly curved downwards at the «nds. 
To each of these is fastened a snood of smaller line, 



six feet long, bearing a single large. cod-hook twice the 
size of those used on the long-lines, as nothing bnt cod 
is now fished for. When the cod are numerous, five 

Sprawl Wire. 

or six hooks are put on each snood, but usually there is 
only one to each. Whelk-bait is used, and the welled- 
smacks with their regular complement of men are 
employed as before. Whilst hand-lining, the smack is 
hoye-to, and each of the men works one line, keeping 
the bait at such a distance from the ground as proves 
most successful, sometimes close to the bottom, or at 
other times, perhaps, within a fathom or two of the 
surface. The best fishing is generally towards the end 
of the day, and then all hands are kept busily at work. 
The fish caught near the coast are commonly smaller 
than those taken on the Dogger Bank ; but after two 
or three months, when the herring fishery is coming to 
an end, the cod become scarce inshore, and the smacks 



prepare for the long-lining in deep water, and there, as 
the winter comes on, the ood are again fonnd in large 

When the smacks arrive with their cargoes of live 
and dead fish at Grimsby, the cod in the well are taken 
ont by means of long-handled landing nets, and are 
placed in wooden boxes or chests which are kept float- 
ing in the dock ; there the fish are stored till wanted 
for the market. These cod-chests are seven feet long, 
four feet wide, and two feet deep ; the bottom is made 

Grimsby Cod-chest. 

of stout battens placed a short distance apart, so that 
the water penetrates freely to the interior, as it does 
also between the planks of which the sides and ends 
are built up. The top is wholly planked over, except 
in the centre, where there is an oblong opening for 
putting in and taking out the fish. This opening is 
closed by a cover when the chest is in the water. Two 
ropes or chains are fixed in the ends of each chest for 
convenience in moving it about and hoisting it out of 
the water. About forty good-sized cod, or nearly a 
hundred smaller ones, may be put into one of these 
chests, and will live there without much deterioration 
for about a fortnight. There are usually as many as 
400 of these chests in the Grimsby fish-dock, some- 


times all in use, and containing from 15,000 to 20,000 
live cod. 

Every day dnring the cod season a remarkable scene 
is presented here, and the same thing occurs at Harwich, 
although on a smaller scale, Grimsby and Harwich 
being the two ports where the live cod are stored. A 
certain number of fish being wanted for market, the 
salesmen make their preparations accordingly, and the 
cod are taken out of the chests and killed. I say 
killed, because the fish are not merely taken out of the 
water and allowed to die, but they are dispatched in a 
very summary manner. A chest of cod is brought 
alongside an old hulk kept for the purpose, and moored 
in the dock close to the market-place ; tackles from a 
couple of davits are then hooked on to the handles, and 
the chest is hoisted up till nearly clear of the water, 
which drains through the bottom and leaves the fish 
dry. The cover is then taken off, and a man gets into 
the opening and takes out the fish, seizing them by the 
head and tail. As may be supposed, the commotion 
among fifty or sixty cod just out of iiie water is very 
great, and it is often a work of difficulty to get a good 
hold of the fish ; but, one after another, they are lifted 
out and thrown up to the deck of the hulk, when they 
come into the hands of another man, who acts as execu- 
tioner ; he grasps the fish tightly behind the head with 
his left hand, holds it firmly on the deck^ and giving a 
few heavy blows on the nose with a short dub, kills it 
at once. It is sometimes as much as can be done to 
hold down a large and lively fish on the slippery deck, 
whilst giving it the coup de grdce; but the work is 

G 2 


generally skilfully performed, and the dead fish rapidly 
accumulate into a large heap, whence they are taken to 
the adjoining quay, to be packed in bulk in the railway 
trucks waiting close by to receive them. Each truck 
will hold about twelve score of good-sized fish, or a 
proportionately larger number of smaller ones. The 
fish thus killed and packed reach Billingsgate in time 
for the early market next morning, and are known in 
the trade by the name of "live cod," the manner in 
which they are killed affecting the muscles of the fish 
in some way that enables the crimping process to be 
carried out successfully some hours after the fish have 
been taken out of the water. These cod command a 
high price, and are looked upon as essentially " West 
End" fish. There is, of course, a great advantage 
gained by thus storing the cod alive, for not only is 
the market more regularly supplied than would other- 
wise be the case, owing to small catches during bad 
weather, or delays from calms or adverse winds, but the 
fish themselves also come into the hands of the fish- 
mongers in a freslfer state than almost any other kinds 
supplied to them. 

These two' methods of line-fishing are carried on 
more or less around our coasts, with various modifica- 
tions in the size of the hooks, the weight of the leads, 
the length and mounting of the lines, and the kind of 
bait used; the differences depending on the kinds of 
fish sought for, and, in the case of the hand-lines, the 
manner in which they are worked. Boats of various 
sizes are used, but they are mostly of only a few tons' 
measurement, especially for hand-line fishing, which is 


generally carried on within a few miles of the shore. 
On many parts of the coast of Scotland, howeyer, the 
larger boats used for drift-fishing, and now mostly 
decked, are also employed in the proper season for 
line-fishing. It should also be mentioned, as showing 
the different customs of fishermen on different parts of 
the coast, that while the Grimsby "cod-men" keep 
their smacks before the wind when shooting their lines, 
and beat up against the wind when hauling them in, 
the fishermen from Eyemouth, and, I believe, also 
from the immediate neighbourhood of the Firth of 
Forth, if not elsewhere, do precisely the reverse, and 
always keep their boats before the wind when hauling 
in the lines. 

There is one peculiar method of line-fishing about 
which I may say a few words. It is called " dandy- 
line fishing," and in principle is much the same as that 
with the " paternoster," well known in fresh waters . 
but the line is mounted in a somewhat different man- 
ner. The line has a leaden sinker or plu^^net (b) of 
about four pounds' weight at one end, and above it, at 
intervals of eight inches, the line is fastened by an 
ordinary clove-hitch (o) to the centre of pieces of 
whalebone or stout wire nine inches long, having at 
each end a very short line terminating with a bright 
tinned hook. Eight or ten of these spreaders are thus 
fsustened at right angles to the line (a), and the whole 
apparatus is lowered into the water and gently moved 
up and down, the distance to which it is sunk depend- 
ing on where the herrings are supposed to be most 
numerous at the time, it may be but little below the 



surface, or perhaps as deep as ten fathoms. No bait is 
used, the bright hooks being themselves sufficiently 




attractive. In this manner great numbers of half- 
grown herrings have been taken on the Scotch coast, 


especially on the eastern side. This method was at 
one time in common use for catching small herrings 
for bait on the Caithness coast daring six weeks or two 
months before the regular drift-fishing commenced, but 
it has gone very much out of favour in recent years. 
It is still employed, however, at several places further 
south. I have not been able to obtain any very satis* 
factory explanation of the term " dandy " as applied to 
this line; but those who have the best practical ac- 
quaintance with the Scotch fishermen and their modes 
of expression believe, that ''dandy" in this case has 
the ordinary English meaning, and a " dandy-line ^' is 
merely one which is more than usually smart and pret- 
tily mounted. 


Among the several kinds of fishing-net in use in this 
country, the scan or seine has probably the strongest 
claim to be considered as the earliest adopted. Of the 
origin of any of our nets I can say very little; but 
there is evidence of the scan, or draw-net, having been 
nsed by some nations long before the Christian era; 
and in the New Testament we read of fishing having 
been carried on by some of those who afterwards 
became Apostles, in a manner which agrees entirely 
with our present method of working the scan. Mr. 
Couch, the author of the well-known work entitled 
* Fishes of the British Islands,' indeed claims a much 


higher antiquity for these nets, and endeavours to show 
the probability of the sean having been introduced into 
this country by the Phcenicians, who were known to 
use this net ; and as they are said to have traded with 
what is now known as Cornwall as early as the days of 
Moses, they may have taught the ancient Gomishmen 
the use of this net. It is not necessary, however, that 
I should go into this question, and I shall be content 
with acknowledging that sean-fishing is a very old 
method in this country, and in no part of it is it more 
commonly practised, or more thoroughly worked, than 
in the extreme west of England. 

The seans used in this country are of three kinds, 
namely, the sean proper — sometimes called the ^ stop- 
sean" — the tuck-sean, and the ground or foot-sean. 
One special character, however, is common to them 
all — they surround or enclose the fish, and the diffe- 
rences between them relate almost entirely to the 
manner in which the nets are worked. A sean consists 
of a long train of netting, which may vary in length 
and depth according to what it is required for ; but it 
is always deeper in the middle or " bunt " than at the 
"sleeves" or "wings," as the ends are called. The 
object of making the middle of the net deeper than the 
ends, is to give the enclosed fish less opportunity of 
escaping underneath when the net is being hauled in, 
as that is the part of the net where the fish congregate 
under such circumstances ; and when the net is being 
hauled on shore, its gradual deepening from the ends 
towards the middle or bunt enables the whole of the 
foot or lower edge, in most cases, to touch the shelving 


bottom at the same time, and so to effectually prevent 
the escape of the enclosed fish in that direction. The 
net is thrown out or shot in a semicircle if it is to be 
hauled on shore, or often in a complete circle, if it is 
intended to be worked entirely from the boats. In 
either case the ends are sooner or later brought 
together, and the fish are completely surrounded. The 
back, or upper edge, is well supported at the surface 
by corks, which is very necessary, as the fish mostly 
caught by the scan are those which commonly keep 
near the top of the water; and the foot is weighted 
with leads to keep it down, so that the whole wall of 
netting may hang perpendicularly from the corks. 

There is no part of our coast where seaning can be 
seen more effectively worked, or on a larger scale, than 
in ComwaU. St. Ives has long been famed for its 
pilchard fishery; and, fluctuating as it has been, the 
proceeds are so valuable, in even a moderately good 
season, that for many years it has been thought worth 
while to keep between 200 and 300 large scans ready 
for work, and to take their turn in the limited space 
available for their prox>er employment. Two, or some- 
times three, nets are here used for enclosing a shoal of 
fish, or part of it if it is a large one. The first, or 
principal net, spoken of as the " sean," is about 200 
fathoms long aiid ten fathoms at its deepest part, and 
another net of the same kind, called the " stop-sean," 
is fastened to it. These nets are shot at the same time, 
the boats starting with them from the point where they 
are joined together, and in a position rather on the 
outside of the shoal of fish, if they are at a convenient 


distance from the shore ; the boat with the sean throw- 
ing ont the net in a direction parallel with the shore, 
while the stop-sean is shot as the boat is rowed towards 
the beach. The two boats ultimately turn towards 
each other, and gradually bring the ends of the two 
nets together, thus completely surrounding the fish. 
The nets are then fastened together at the point of 
meeting, and the circle gradually contracted by hauling 
up the stop-sean until the whole of the fish are enclosed 
by the large sean alone. If there be a probability of 
enclosing a very large number of fish, a second stop- 
sean is fastened to the first before the circle of nets is 
completed ; but this is only required on rare occasions, 
and, in any case, the fish are ultimately brought within 
the compass of the single large sean. When this has 
been accomplished, the whole circle of netting with the 
enclosed fish is slowly hauled towards the shore, into 
some quiet place out of the tide, if possible, till the 
foot of the net touches the bottom, and there it is 
securely moored. This is necessary, because the hauls 
of fish are sometimes so large, that several days may 
elapse before the net can be emptied. Now comes the 
operation of what is called " tucking " the fish. For 
this purpose another net, called the "tuck-sean," is 
employed. It is only seventy or eighty fathoms long, 
but very deep at the bunt, or middle ; it is shot inside 
the circle formed by the large sean, and, as it is hauled 
in, the foot of the bunt is raised so as to get the net 
under the fish and bring them to the surfeice, whence 
they are taken out in large baskets and put into the 
boats to be carried on shore. I shall give more details 


of the incidents attending this fishing when I speak of 
St. lyes, the great pilchard-cnring station. 

Very much the same mode of working the scan is in 
use on other parts of the Gomish coast, bnt generally 
on a much smaller scale ; frequently only one net is 
employed, and the fish are '* tacked " into the boat at 
once ; bnt in that case, of course, the capture is not a 
very large one. 

The necessity for using rowing boats in working the 
sean prevents its employment as a '' circle-net/' except 
neav the land ; it is used sometimes in deep water in 
some of the Scotch lochs ; and in such cases the net is 
not grounded, but brought under the fish like a tuck- 
net. In most cases, however, the sean is there worked 
near the shore, and the net having been grounded, there 
is less difficulty in securing the capture of the fish. As 
the term " trawling " is commonly used in Scotland 
for the kind of fishing which in England, and, I 
believe, in most, if not in all, parts of Ireland, is 
known by the proper name of " seaning," the expres- 
sion '* sean-trawling " might be used when speaking 
of the Scotch fishery, instead of either '* seaning," 
which would not be properly understood in Scotland, 
or " trawling," the meaning of which would be liable 
to be misunderstood in others parts of the United 

I have now spoken of the sean proper and the 
tuck-sean; and I have only to describe the ground 
or foot-sean, in some places called the scringe-net. 
This sean is much more widely known than the 
others, for it can be very easily worked, and one of 


even very small size may be the means of catching a 
great variety of fish. The peculiarity in its working 
consists simply in the net being always hauled on 
shore, and that being the case, there is no necessity 
for the meshes at the wings being as small as is 
desirable at the bunt or middle of the net, where the 
fish sooner or later collect, and the greatest pressure is 
felt. Each wing has a pole to which the ends of the 
upper and lower edges of the net are fastened, and to 
this pole a long drag-rope is attached for the purpose 
of hauling in the net. When the sean is to be shot, 
the end of one of the drag-ropes is left on shore in 
charge of some of the fishermen, and the whole of the 
net with the rope at the other end is put into the sean- 
boat, which is then rowed out from the shore, and, 
after shooting the net in a semicircle, returns with the 
second rope to the beach. The two ropes are then 
slowly hauled in, the two parties of fishermen gradually 
approaching each other as the net comes to land, until 
at last they meet, and the bunt of the net, in which all 
the fish are collected, is then drawn on shore. The 
ground-sean may be made of small dimensions, and is 
therefore very convenient for amateurs who may not be 
able to muster hands enough to work a large net. 
Yachting men frequently use it, and often procure a 
moderate and varied supply of fish by its means. It 
can be easily worked, wherever the bottom is smooth, 
and there is a bit of beach on which the net can be 
landed. At Brighton, and along the Chesil Beach, 
near Portland, however, nets of this kind and of a 
large size are regularly used in the proper season for 


catching mackerel. At the latter place, a long pocket 
of very fine mesh is inserted into the middle of the 
bnnt of the sean, and in this the fish collect as the net 
is being hauled in. The bnnt is in all cases made of 
mnch smaller meshes than the other parts, as the 
object is to enclose the fish, and not to mesh them, as 
in the drift nets. 


This is a gigantic bag-net exceeding in length the 
largest trawl, and is nsed every winter at the month of 
the Thames, in the Solent, and the Wash. It is exclu- 
sively employed for catching sprats ; and numbers of 
these nets are worked, especially in the estuary of the 
Thames, from November to February. The net is like 
a long narrow funnel, with a nearly square mouth, the 
entrance being thirty feet from head to foot, and about 
twenty-one feet wide. From this it tapers for a length 
of ninety feet to a diameter of between five and six feet, 
and further diminishes to nearly half that size in the 
remaining part of the net, which, when fully made up, 
is also about ninety feet long. The whole net is there- 
fore nearly 180 feet, or sixty yards in length. It is 
divided into several portions, the first being called 
the " quarters," from being composed of four distinct 
pieces corresponding to the four sides of the mouth ; 
the next is named the ''enter," and forms the last 
part of the most funnel-shaped portion of the net. 


The remainder of the net is made up with from two 
to fonr divisions, the last being called the ''cod/' 
''dock-hose," or "wash-hose," and the intermediate 
portion or portions the "sleeves," the nmnber of 
sleeves inserted into the net depending very much on 
whether there is a prospect of the fish being abundant 
or otherwise. The meshes throughout the net diminish 
in size from an inch and three-eighths near the mouth 
to from half to three-quarters of an inch at the smaller 
end, there being a slight enlargement of the mesh in 
the last part of the net. Some little variation may 
take place in the proportions of the several parts of 
the stow-net, but those I have given may be taken as 
fairly representing the nets used by the Thames fisher- 
men. The smacks employed in this fishery are very 
commonly those used at other times for deep-sea 
oyster dredging, and the shrimping boats of the 
Thames also take part in it 

The mode of working the net is very simple. The 
vessel takes up a position at the beginning of the tide 
where there are signs of fish, or in localities where the 
sprats are generally found at that season. She then 
anchors, and at the same time the net is put overboard 
and takes its proper position under the vesseL That 
this may be effectively managed, a rope is made fast 
by one end to the anchor of the fishing boat before the 
anchor is dropped ; the other is fastened to four ropes, 
leading each to one comer of the square mouth of the 
net, thus forming what is called a double bridle ; and 
to facilitate the mouth of the net being kept open, 
when in the water, two wooden spars or " balks " are 


fastened to the month of the net, one on the npper side 
of the square and the other at the foot. More than 
this, however, is necessary to keep the month properly 
open, and this essential part of the arrangement is pro- 
vided for, by having a rope from each end of the npper 
balk to the corresponding side of the vessel, and by 
weighting the lower balk in order to sink it. When 
therefore, the vessel has taken up her position for 
fishing, both vessel and net are held by the same 
anchor, and the depth at which it is thought best for 
*the net to remain is regulated by the ropes from the 
ends of the upper balk leading to the vessel. The 
strain on this enormous bag-net by the force of the 
tide is often very great, but the net, being held by 
the same anchor as holds the vessel, both keep in the 
same relative position, even if the combined strain 
should cause the anchor to drag. In this position 
then, the vessel and net remain till the tide has nearly 
done, the sails being all taken down, and only one 
hand being left on deck as a watch to see when it is 
getting slack-water, and to keep a general look-out. 
As soon as the tide is becoming slack, aU hands pre- 
pare to haul up the net. The first thing to be done is 
to close the mouth of the net. This is effected by 
means of a chain fastened to the middle of the lower 
balk at the foot of the mouth of the net, and leading 
through an iron loop at the middle of the upper balk 
upwards to a small davit at the bow of the vessel. 
By heaving in this chain, the two balks are brought 
close together, and ultimately raised above the surface 
of the water, the net with all the contained fish stream- 



ing away by the side and astern of the vessel. The 
net is then hauled on board by a long-handled iron 
hook, and oyerhanled till the " cod " or end of it is 
reached. This is then hoisted in by help of a rope, 
which, after closing the end of the net, leads up to the 
vessel. This rope, or " pinion," having been cast off, 
the fish are measured into the vessel's hold in quan- 
tities of about three bushels at a time, the master 
superintending the work, and using a kind of wooden 
hook, called a '* mingle," to hold the net in such' a 
manner, that only a certain quantity of fish shall pass 
out at once. In this way all the fish in the long tube 
of netting, of which the free end of the stow-net is 
composed, ai^e worked through the end of the cod or 
dock-hose into the vessel's hold. " Stow-boating," as 
this mode of fishing is usually called, is carried on 
both by day and night during the season. When the 
shoals of fish are of considerable size, and the captures 
are proportionately large, it is found that few fish 
besides sprats are taken ; but at other times young 
herrings and other small fish are frequently mixed 
with them. The sprats are usually sold out of the 
fishing boats to persons who make it their business to 
purchase, in order to sell again to the wholesale dealers 
at Billingsgate, who resell them to the fishmongers, so 
that the price at which sprats are sold in the shops, 
low as it may appear, is fSar above what is paid to the 
persons who catch them. In fact, the takes are some- 
times so enormous from a large number of fishing 
boats, that there is often a difficulty in getting rid of 

THE 8 TOW-NET. 97 


the fish even for the purpose of manure, and there are 
hundreds, or I may say thousands, of tons disposed of 
every year in this manner. There is some fluctuation 
in the quantity of sprats caught from year to year ; but 
there is no apparent connection between the scarcity 
or abundance of fish in any one season, and the success 
of the fiishing in the previous one. 

A net called a '' trim-net " is worked on the same 
principle in some parts of the Wash ; but it is very 
much smaller, and the mouth is of a triangular shape, 
three poles, the lowest of which is the longest, being 
fastened together at the ends so as to produce that 
form. It is used at the entrance to some of the small 
rivers, and catches smelts, eels, flounders, and other 
fish which frequent brackish water. 

^' Whitebait," which are, without the slightest doubt, 
nothing but young herrings, are caught in the Thames 
by means of a small net of much the same shape as a 
stow-net, and worked on just the same principle. 

The only other kind of bag-net of any consequence 
used for catching sea fish, are long nets, which I have 
seen at the inner part of Waterford Harbour. They 
are essentially bag-nets, fourteen feet wide, eight feet 
deep, and fourteen fathoms long. They are fastened to 
the stakes of old salmon-weirs, and are used for the 
purpose of intercepting the sprats in their course for a 
short distance up the river ; but the visits of the sprats 
to the locality being rather uncertain, the importance 
of these nets is not very great 



This is a curious arrangement of stakes and nets, in 
use only in certain localities along the line of coast 
between Beachy Head and Folkestone. Its purpose is 
especially to catch mackerel when they come tolerably 
close to the shore, and it acts very much on the same 
principle as that of a fishing weir, bei^g constmcted so 
as to turn the fish in a particular direction, and to lead 
them into an enclosure in which they are ultimately 
captured. The kettle net is divided into two distinct 
portions, of which one consists of a circular row of 
stakes eleven feet high and eight feet apart, forming 
what is called the " pound," often 200 yards in cir- 
cumference ; this is placed so, that the outer part of 
the circle is just beyond low-water mark at neap tide, 
and the pound is completed by fastening to the whole 
series of stakes a train of netting reaching from the 
tops to the ground. Old herring-nets are generally 
used for this purpose, as the mackerel are too large to 
be caught in meshes of what is called herring-size. 
The pound is, therefore, an enclosure of netting sup- 
ported by stakes. The entrance to the pound is made 
on the land side, and is about thirty-five feet wide. The 
other portion of the kettle net consists of a straight 
barrier of stakes and netting, just the same as in the 
pound; but it extends in a straight line from high- 
water mark to a short distance within the entrance to 
the pound, so as to act as a barrier to any fish attempt- 
ing to pass between the pound and the shore. The 


length of the barrier depends on what slope there is on 
the ground, or, in other words, on the distance between 
high-water and low-water marks. As these nets are 
only nsed where the tide goes out a long way, the bar- 
riers range from about 200 to 500 or 600 yards. At 
high water, the pound and a great part of the barrier 
are covered by the water, or nearly so, and the mackerel, 
in attempting to pass along near the shore, are stopped 
by the barrier ; they cannot get round it at the shore 
end, and they naturally try in the other direction, and 
then, by following the line of the barrier outwards, they 
ultimately pass into the large enclosure of the pound. 
Once having entered, they are not likely again very 
soon to find the narrow opening ; and, as the tide falls, 
the fish naturally keep in the deepest part of the water, 
until, as it approaches the time of low tide, their escape 
is completely cut off by the greater part of the pound 
becoming dry. The fishermen have then no trouble in 
taking out the fish. A horse and cart are driven into 
the pound, and the fish are either dipped up with 
baskets, and put into the cart, or, if much of the 
ground within the enclosure be still covered with 
water, a small scan is shot round the fish, and they 
are drawn on shore. I have hitherto spoken of the 
pound having been placed somewhere about low-water 
mark at neap tide ; but it will be remembered that the 
spring tides go out very much farther, and therefore a 
larger extent of surface may be utilized for two or 
three days every fortnight. In order to make the most 
of this greater recess of tide, it was the practice to put 
up another kettle net with a shorter barrier, and & 

H 2 


smaller pound, outside and in continnation of the 
larger one, the space occupied by it lying between the 
limits of low water at the neap and spring tides. The 
obstruction to boat navigation, however, along the 
coasts where the nets were used, and the danger arising 
from the stakes extending so far out, and more or less 
covered by the water at about high tide, have led the 
Board of Trade to discourage the use of the outer 
kettle-nets, and to some extent of the inner ones also ; 
for the setting up of these nets not only causes an ob- 
struction to navigation, but completely monopolizes 
the whole extent of shore where they are used, and 
entirely prevents the scan nets being advantageously 
employed there. The kettle net is likewise a less 
generally profitable means of fishing than the scans ; the 
former catches the fish when they go into the pound ; 
but with the scans it is frequently possible to surround 
a shoal of fish which might otherwise escape ; and the 
best policy in all regulations of fisheries is that which 
leads to the largest supply of useful fish to the general 


Two kinds of net are spoken of under these names, 
but they both are anchored or set when in use, and fish 
of various kinds become entangled in, or tramelled by, 
them. The real trammel, however, is peculiar in being 
made up of three nets or distinct sets of meshes, as is 
shown by its name, which in modem French is tremaU 


or tramcdly a corruption of troia mailles, i.e. three 
meslies. In low Latin this net is called tramallum or 
tramela, derived from trea maculcB, signifying the same 
peculiar construction. The trammel, then, is a com- 
bination of three long nets placed side by side, and 
fJEUstened together at the back, foot, and ends. Each of 
the outer nets or " wallings " has a depth of five meshes 
ten inches square, and is forty or fifty fathoms long. 
These two wallings are mounted so that the meshes of 
both exactly correspond in position, and a fish might 
pass through them as if they were a single net. The 
third net, however, is placed between the other two, and 
has its meshes only two inches square ; but it is both 
twice as long and as deep as the outer ones, the excess 
being gathered in at short intervals along the edges 
where the three nets are united. The result is a large 
quantity of slack netting between the two outer nets. 
Thus prepared, the trammel is set at the bottom with 
its length in the direction of the tide. It is anchored 
and buoyed at each end, the back or upper edge being 
well corked, and the foot weighted to keep the whole 
length in a proper position. 

The action of the trammel is peculiar, and is more 
like that of a trap than is apparently the case in other 
sea nets. As the outer nets or wallings stand with 
their meshes fully open and exactly opposite each 
other, and the small-meshed net hangs loosely between 
them, a fish, in trying to pass through the first one, 
meets the second, and carries a portion of it through 
the third, thus producing a bag or pocket beyond it. 
The more the fish struggles within its self-made prison. 


the more it becomes ''trammelled," and in its 'efforts 
to free itself, sometimes carries the pocket back through 
the adjoining large mesh, and makes its chances of 
escape still more hopeless. There is a double advan- 
tage in haying a walling on each side, for a fish is thus 
obliged to strike the net just where the middle slack 
portion can be pushed through the outer large mesh, 
and the net is equally effective on whichever side the 
fish approaches it. Nets of this description are much 
used at Guernsey for the capture of the large red 
mullet, which are sent thence to the London market. 
It is also coming more into use than formerly on the 
coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and a trammel now fre- 
quently forms part of the fishing gear carried by many 
of our yachts. On the Cornish coast, the trammel is 
often called a '* tumbling net." 

The ordinary trammel or set-net is merely a single 
net mounted very slack on the head and back ropes, so 
as to allow a good deal of play to the netting. It is, 
in fact, much the same in character as the ordinary 
drift-nets previously described; but it is set at the 
bottom with anchors and buoys in just the same way 
as the true trammel. The meshes are made of a size 
suitable to that of the fish intended to be caught, as in 
this case the fish becomes meshed and entangled in the 
netting. Hake are largely taken in these nets in the 
south of Ireland ; and it is used in different places for 
cod, turbot, herrings, &c., and even for crabs on parts 
of the Scotch coast. 

( 103 ) 


It may be interesting to some of my readers if I now 
take a short survey of the fisheries carried on around 
the British Islands, pointing out the localities in which 
they have become important industries, and giving a 
slight sketch of the kinds of fishing most in favour in 
the several districts of the coast. It will be convenient 
to take each country separately; and the extent of 
coast-line, no less than the importance and variety of 
its fisheries, fully justifies my beginning with England. 
I do not remember its having been noticed that 
the eastern coasts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 
have generally more productive fisheries than the 
western coasts of the three countries. But such is un- 
doubtedly the case. On the western coast of Ireland, 
the frequent bad weather, and the tremendous sea so 
commonly setting in upon its bold, rocky shores, with 
the absence, except in a few deep bays or inlets, of 
harbours in which fishing boats of even moderate size 
can find shelter, all combine to prevent systematic 
fishing on a large scale. The same exposed character 
of the coast of the outer Hebrides, which may be con- 
sidered as forming a large portion of the western side 
of Scotland, no doubt interferes there also with profit- 
able fishing; but great compensation is provided by 


the comparatively sheltered and productive waters of 
the Minch, between the enter islands and the mainland. 
But there is no part of the coast of the United King- 
dom in which there is less interest taken in sea fishing, 
or apparently fewer fish of any kind to be caught, than 
on the western coast of England and Wales — that 
which bounds one side of the Irish Channel. No 
doubt the Irish Sea is notorious for bad weather ; but 
the Irish side of it furnishes a larger supply of fish of 
various kinds, than all the rest of the Irish coasts 
together. It may be that there is some peculiarity of 
the bottom on this side affecting the supply of food for 
the various fishes, and they are, consequently, not 
attracted to that coast ; or there may be, possibly, ob- 
jectionable warm currents setting along that shore; 
but the fact remains, that there are apparently fewer 
fish on the western side of England and Wales than 
on any other part of the British Islands. 

Conmiencing, then, at Carlisle, we find, besides a 
little inshore line-fishing, and occasional drifting for 
herrings by a few boats, that trawling from the White- 
haven, Fleetwood, and Liverpool districts is the most 
important fishery on the north-west of England. But 
even the trawling grounds are only sufficiently pro- 
ductive at certain seasons of the year. The supply of 
fish on them fluctuates very much in successive years, 
and the trawlers are in the habit of changing their 
ground at regular times. The principal localities for 
this trawling are between the Isle of Man and the Eng- 
lish coast, and in Carnarvon and Cardigan bays ; and 
during the last few years, from fourteen to twenty-two 


trawlers from Whitebayen and Liverpool have fished 
Buccessfiilly in February, March, and April, on the 
Ayrshire coast. It is quite a new thing for beam- 
trawlers to work on that coast of Scotland ; and as 
good catches have been made there of some of the best 
kinds of fish, it is to be hoped that Scotch fishermen 
themselves may in time be induced to try this mode of 
fishing, especially as we understand that the long- 
existing prejudice against it has been much lessened. 
Bad weather, however, is one of the difficulties to be 
contended with on that part of the coast; and that 
liability will, no doubt, interfere with the extension in 
this locality of a mode of fishing which is so profitably 
worked on many of the coasts of England. Morecambe 
Bay deserves some notice from its having long been 
famous for its shrimp fishery, and the proceeds are not 
only distributed through the manufacturing districts, 
but are sent to the London market. The ground in 
Morecambe Bay consists of extensive sandbanks, with 
innumerable channels between them, and in these the 
shrimpers work with cutter-rigged boats of about five 
or six tons, using an ordinary beam-trawl of suitable 
size and with a very small mesh. Twenty-five or 
thiriy quarts of shrimps are considered a fair day's 
catch for one of these boats. Mussel fishing is also 
successfully worked on some parts of this coast. Long 
lines are used here in winter, and among the fish taken 
by them at times are large numbers of dogfish. These 
mischievous fish, the sworn enemy of fishermen on all 
parts of our coasts, are here in some cases turned to 
profitable account, and the fact is especially remark- 


able from its being so entirely exceptional. Some of 
the Morecambe Bay liners prepare the dogfish for 
market by skinning them, and removing the head and 
tail. In this condition they are sold, under the name 
of '* Darwen salmon," to the weavers at Blackburn and 
Preston, the only persons who can be induced to pur- 
chase them. It is the only case I have ever met with 
in this country, in which the hated dogfish was not 
knocked on the head and thrown overboard as soon as 

The Welsh fisheries, so far as they depend on the 
native population, have very little importance. Trawl* 
ing is carried on at certain seasons in Carnarvon and 
Cardigan bays, and on the Tenby ground ; but, as I 
have mentioned, English boats are, with few excep- 
tions, the only ones engaged there. Drift fishing for 
herrings and line fishing are both worked on the west 
coast of Wales ; but the boats in use are mostly small 
ones, and the supply of fish from them is barely suffi- 
cient for local demands. Independently of the general 
apparent scarcity of fish on this coast, the mining and 
quarrying industries in the Principality are of such 
importance, that the working population have little 
inducement to seek their fortune in the uncertain 
occupation of a sea fisherman. 

The Milford oyster fishery still employs a good 
many hands; but, like most other oyster fisheries, 
there has been a great flAlling off in the supply in the 
last few years. 

Tenby is the only really important fishing station 
on the Welsh coast ; and, although there are several 


trawl-smacks belonging to the place, a large propor- 
tion of the trawling on the Tenby ground is done by 
Brixham boats, some of which regularly work there 
from April to September, the only time when the fish 
are found there in any abundance. The trawling 
ground lies between Lundy Island and Carmarthen 
Bay. Line fishing is carried on in this neighbour- 
hood in winter ; and mackerel, herrings, pilchards, and 
sprats are caught by scans, but their visits are very 
uncertain. The oyster fishery at Mumbles or Oyster- 
mouth used to be of some importance, but it has 
greatly diminished, and many of the boats formerly^ 
employed in it have been sold to Brixham men for 
line fishing. 

On the south side of the Bristol Channel, the only 
fishery which requires notice is that for shrimps at 
Bumham, in Bridgewater Bay. For this purpose bag- 
nets are suspended from stakes driven into the sand ; 
and, as the nets are placed close to the ground, vast 
numbers of shrimps find their way into them as the 
tide ebbs, and, having once entered, escape is prevented 
by a peculiar arrangement within, on much the same 
principle as that commonly applied in mouse-traps, 
and generally adopted in the baskets or " pots " used 
in the west of England for catching crabs and lobsters. 
There have been great complaints made in past years 
of the destruction of small fish in these shrimp nets, 
and no doubt numbers of small fry have been caught 
in them. Complaints of this kind have been made on 
several parts of our coast for years past, but the evi- 
dence furnished by the immense and increasing supply 


of fish to the markets all over the coantry, shows how 
utterly unimportant is the destruction complained of. 
It might be easily put a stop to; but the shrimp 
fishery would come to an end at the same time. 

I will now pass on to the Cornish fisheries, there 
being little to be said about Barnstaple Bay, Bideford, 
and Clovelly, except that the ordinary methods of fish- 
ing are in use near the land, and are more or less 
successful according to the season, but they are never 
of any great importance. 

The fishery which is especially associated with Corn- 
wall is that for pilchards, and next in importance to it 
is the mackerel fishery; besides these there are her- 
rings, line-fish, and a great many crabs and lobsters to 
be fished for, and deep-sea trawling is carried on by a 
few vessels from Penzance and Falmouth. St. Ives 
takes a very important position in connection with the 
pilchard fishery. It has a large fleet of fine boats 
which are used for the drift fishery, but it is particu- 
larly celebrated for its extensive use of the pilchard 
scans. Under the head of scan fishing I have given 
an account of the manner in which these nets are 
worked so as to enclose the shoals of fish, and I will 
now speak more particularly of what takes place at 
St. Ives during the seaning season. 

Pilchards are included with herrings, mackerel, and 
sprats imder the general title of migratory fish, that is, 
they only appear near the land during certain months 
every year. At other times, they are supposed to be in 
deep water, and possibly i»x away ; but on these points 
there is literally nothing whatever known, nor can we 


tell why the fish approach the land, as we find they do 
every year. The idea that they come in for the pur- 
pose of spawning has been qnite disproved. In the 
case of the pilchard, the great spawning season is in 
the early part of the summer, before the shoals of fish 
come near the coast. 

The pilchards visit the south coast of Ireland towards 
the end of the summer, and then appear to direct their 
course to the northern shore of Cornwall. They 
usually first strike that coast a little to the eastward 
of St. Ives, but they do not generally come in any 
number close to the land till they are near that town, 
and then, following the line of coast, they sometimes 
enter and work round St. Ives Bay in enormous shoals, 
and come within reach of the numerous scans kept 
there for use in this particular fishery. 

The' ground in this bay that is at all suitable for 
seaning is of very limited extent, so that special regu- 
lations are required to ensure every sean-boat having 
its fsur chance of fishing. Moreover, the fishery is 
likely to be so valuable when the fish come within 
reach, that it is desirable to run no risk of any con- 
fusion firom too many boats being at work at the same 
time. A special Act of Parliament was accordingly 
passed some years ago for the management of this 
fishery, and is still strictly carried out, with the 
approval of all the fishermen. Under this Act, the 
seaning ground is divided into six '* stems " or stations 
by fixed marks on the shore ; and it is decided by lot, 
in what rotation the various seans are to take their 
turns to occupy the stations. The season lasts from 


the 25th of July to the 25th of December, and no sean 
is to keep possession of a station for more than one 
day at a time. At the conclusion of the day, the turn 
is oyer, whether the net has been used or not, and on 
the following day the next sean in rotation takes pos- 
session of the " stem," and so on throughout the season. 
There are also strict regulations about the dimensions 
of the nets, nothing less than 160 fathoms in length 
along the back-rope, with a depth of eight fathoms in 
the middle or bunt, and six fathoms at the wings, 
being allowed. The object of fixing a minimum size 
for the sean is to prevent a net being used that would 
only enclose a comparatively small number of fish, 
when it would be for the benefit, either directly or 
indirectly, of all the people there that the largest 
portion possible of the shoal should be captured ; for 
a vast number of persons besides the fishermen find 
employment from this fishery, and, when once dis- 
turbed, that portion of the shoal which has not been 
surrounded at first, is likely to strike off into deep 
water and be lost Sometimes, however, the shoals 
are so large, and the pressure of the fish in the 
direction in which the shoal is moving is so great, 
that they are not easily turned or alarmed, and then 
several scans may be used almost at the same time, 
each net being shot in succession as soon as the pre- 
ceding one has fedrly done its utmost. 

The boats used for sean fishing are of three sizes ; 
the largest of them, known as the '^ sean-boat,'' is 
usually about thirty-two feet on the keel, and with 
plenty of room in it for carrying the sean. The crew 


consists of eight men, six of whom row the boat, and 
two shoot or throw out the net. The next in size is 
the " tow-boat," two of which, about twenty-four feet 
in length, work in company with the sean-boat, and 
each carries a stop-net, to be united to the sean^ as 
previously described. The remaining boat is a small 
one, called the " lurker," or " volyer," from which the 
captain of the scan directs all the proceedings. The 
position of the shoals is first observed and pointed out 
by men called ''huers," who are selected from the 
sharpest and cleverest of the fishermen, and are 
stationed at particular places above the shore, usually 
two men for each station, and they readily detect the 
fish by the peculiar appearance and colour in the 
water where the shoals come near the surface, and 
signal with a large, white ball to the boats waiting 
below to take their turns. These men remain on duty 
for three hours at a time, and receive 8/. a month and 
one hogshead of fish out of every hundred hogsheads 
taken. The practice of measuring the pilchards by 
the hogshead arises from the fioKst of these fish being 
in such large demand for curing and exportation to 
the Mediterranean, whither they are sent packed in 
hogsheads. The estimate of the contents of a scan, or 
the actual quantity landed from one, is therefore con- 
veniently spoken of as so many hogsheads. The work 
of landing and carrying the fish to the curing houses, 
as well as the previous operation of hauling the scan 
with its scaly contents into shoal water, is performed 
by a number of men termed " blowsers ; " and it is not 
improbable that the heaving in of the sean-warp by 


means of a capstan on the beach, work in which every- 
one is glad to lend a hand, may have led to the nse of 
the expression "heav-ah, heav-ah," which is heard 
on all sides nnder such circumstances, and to which 
so much mystery has been attached. The scans 
belong for the most part to companies or large pro- 
prietors, and the fishermen receive regular pay in 
money and a certain proportion of the fish they have 
succeeded in catching. The division of the fish is 
made as soon as they are brought on shore, and every 
household does a little curing on its own account, and 
provides what is thought almost a necessity in Corn- 
wall — a stock of pilchards for use in winter. 

Curing is carried out on a large scale at some of the 
establishments at St. Ives whenever the fish are abun- 
dant, and preparations must be made accordingly ; but 
the fishery is a very fluctuating one, depending, as it 
does, not so much on the abundance of fish on the 
coast, but on the shoals coming into localities where 
the scans can be advantageously worked. 

The curing is the especial work of the women, who 
pack the pilchards in alternate layers of coarse salt 
and fish on the stone floor of the curing house, until 
the " bulk " has reached a height of five or six feet. 
Here the fish remain for a month, and the oil and 
brine draining from them are carried off by gutters in 
the floor to a cistern. When the fish have been suffi- 
ciently salted, they are washed and packed in hogsheads, 
each layer of fish being placed with their heads out- 
wards and with a "rose" of fish in the centre; a 
circular piece of wood, called a " buckler," and rather 


smaller than the head of the cask, is then placed on the 
top of the fish, and strong but gradual pressure is 
applied by means of a lever, until the mass of fish 
is reduced one-third in bulk, and a great quantity of 
oil squeezed from them ; this drains through the sides 
and bottom of the cask, the hoops of which are not at 
that time very tightly driven, and is collected as before. 
The quantity of oil obtained from the pilchards depends 
on the season, but at least two gallons of oil are ex- 
pected from each hogshead. It is principally used by 
the leather-dressers. The cask is filled up three times 
before the pressing is finished, which is not until after 
eight or nine days, and then the hogshead of fish should 
weigh four hundredweight gross. The average number 
of fish packed in a hogshead is about 2500. The 
pilchards cured at St. Ives in the early part of the 
season are mostly taken by drift nets, but the sean 
fishery at a later period is mainly depended on to 
provide the fish for exportation. In some years the 
latter fishery is almost a failure ; in others more fish 
are taken than can be sold in one season. As many as 
5500 hogsheads of pilchards were once actually saved 
from the part of a shoal enclosed by a single sean ; but 
from 500 to 1000 hogsheads is generally considered to 
be a very good catch. 

The export of pilchards is entirely to the Mediter- 
ranean, Genoa, Leghorn, Civita Yecchia, Naples, and 
the Adriatic being their regular destinations, and 
steamers the general mode of conveyance. 

I am indebted to Messrs. G. C. Fox and Co., of 
Falmouth, for the following statistics of shipments to 



the Mediterranean since 1815, and they afford good 
evidence of the fluctuations in the success of the sean 
fishery : 




1 Year. 




































































































/ 1,138* 
\ 18,406 
















/ 819* 
\ 7,543 











In Mount's Bay, seaning is also carried on, as well as 
on many other parts of the south coast of Cornwall, but 
the nets are fewer than at St. Ives, and being distributed 
in suitable localities along some extent of coast, there 
is little occasion for the same strict regulations about 
working them as are practically necessary at St. Ives. 
Some of them, however, are by common consent adopted. 
Newlyn and Mousehole, close to Penzance, are tiie 
important fishing places in Mount's Bay ; and it is from 
these villages that the celebrated Mount's Bay luggers 

* Fish of preyiouB season. 


carry on the various drift fisheries for mackerel, 
herrings, and pilchards, which form such an essen- 
tial part of the occupation of the Cornish fishermen. 
Three different classes of boats are used, but they are 
all built in the same style and rigged with large fore 
and mizen lugsails. The largest boats are used for the 
mackerel fishing, and range from thirty to forty feet, 
and occasionally more, on the keel, with from eleven to 
thirteen feet beam. The smaller boats are employed in 
the herring or pilchard fishing, but all are either 
entirely decked or have a large hatchway, which can 
be covered over when desirable. These luggers are 
all built with a sharp stem, and the mizen-mast is 
stepped well forward so as to allow free movement of 
the tiller behind it. The cost of the boats ranges 
according to size, from 120Z. to as much as 600Z. The 
mackerel fishery on the Cornish coast is a very im- 
portant one; it begins about February, sometimes a 
little earlier, at some distance from the land, and con- 
tinues till June. During the season, the quantity of 
fish sent away by railway from Penzance to the 
London and other markets amounts to some thou- 
sands of tons. This fishery is entirely by drift nets 
during the greater part of the season; but when 
towards the end of it the mackerel come close in- 
shore, scans are used whenever practicable. 

A new industry in connection with the pilchard 
fishery has within the last few years been established 
at Newlyn, in Mount's Bay, and at Mevagissey, farther 
to the eastward. This is the manufacture of " sar- 
dines," in precisely the same manner as has long been 

I 2 


carried out on the French coast. As there is not the 
slightest donbt about the French sardine being nothing 
but the young pilchard, myriads of which are caught 
every year in the Bay of Biscay for the purpose of 
being cured in oil under the name of *' sardines," 
there appeared to be no reason why the same manu- 
£Eicture should not be attempted in other places where 
the same fish could be procured : and accordingly some 
enterprising Cornish merchants set up curing establish- 
ments at the two places we have mentioned, having 
taken measures to ensure a thorough knowledge of the 
French method of treating the fish. The result has 
been a great success; and I understand that orders 
for Cornish sardines or pilchards in oil have been 
given during the last two years to such an extent, that 
the manufacturers have had quite enough to do to 
execute them. The curing season is in August and 
September, and the fish are caught for the purpose by 
both scan and drift nets. - 

There is a general similarity in the methods of fish- 
ing along the Cornish coast, and it will be hardly 
necessary to say more than that, besides the important 
drift and scan fisheries I have spoken of, there is a 
good deal of general line-fishing; crabs and lobsters 
have long been caught in considerable numbers, 
although insuf&cient to meet the great increase in the 
demand for them in the London market and elsewhere ; 
and there are a few trawlers belonging to Penzance 
and Falmouth, though such trawling as there is on the 
Cornish coast is almost entirely done by smacks from 
Brixham and Plymouth. 


The fisheries on the Devonshire coast differ much in 
their respective importance from those I have just 
noticed as characteristic of Cornwall. We now find 
drift fishing less thought of, and deep-sea trawling 
systematically carried on. Plymouth is the most 
western regular trawling station, and this mode of fish- 
ing has been constantly carried on from there during 
the whole of the present century, and probably for 
some years before its commencement. More than fifty 
years ago there were thirty trawl-smacks belonging to 
the place, but they were only of half the size of those 
now employed. Although the size and number of the 
Plymouth trawlers have doubled, the increase has not 
taken place so much of late, and the vessels have only 
averaged a little over sixty in number for the last ten 
or fifteen years. The ground worked by them is about 
twenty-one miles in length and nine miles in its 
greatest breadth, and the largest portion of it is west 
of, and inside, the well-known Eddystone. It is, 
therefore, not far £rom the land ; but it has the dis- 
advantage of being exposed to the heavy sea which sets 
in with the frequent south-westerly gales, and it is no 
uncommon thing in winter for the trawlers to be obliged 
to remain in harbour for two or three days at a time. 
Much more profitable work might be done by them, 
however, if they had a little more energy, and devoted 
more time to the fishing when the weather permitted it. 
But old habits are not easily changed, and the Plymouth 
trawlers are still content with going to sea every morn- 
ing and returning home in the afternoon, thus wasting 
hidf their time in harbour, and losing the night-fishing, 


which is always the best for catching soles. They 
consequently have almost always a large proportion of 
"ofiGeit'" fish; but this soon finds purchasers, and a 
great deal of all the fish landed at Pljrmouth is at once 
sent away by rail. The effect of bad weather on that 
part of the coast is sometimes so completely to stop 
all local supply to the market, that the town has been 
frequently dependent for its fish on such as has been 
sent from distant parts of Cornwall; and not very 
long ago, it was the fact, and by no means for the first 
time, that the only fish in Plymouth market was some 
that had been sent down from London. Such is the 
effect of stormy weather on the supply of fish to our 
markets. Trawling, however, is now carried on to 
such an extent on widely-separated parts of our coast, 
that strong winds from any one quarter do not inter- 
rupt the fisheries in every place ; and when the weather 
is bad in the west of England, it is generally fine in 
the North Sea. Billingsgate is, therefore, never with- 
out a supply ; but the worst time for that great market 
is, when a succession of gales interrupts the consign- 
ments from the hundreds of trawlers which regularly 
work in the North Sea. Contrary to the general rule 
of late years on our coasts, the second-class boats in 
the Plymouth Customs' district have increased, whilst 
those of the first class have slightly diminished. This 
is due to the drift and line fishing having been very 
successful, the latter espedaUy having been very pro- 
ductive of whiting, which is in particular favour when 
caught by the. hook. An immense quantity of drift 
fish is every year landed at Plymouth, that being a 


conyenient port for despatching the fish £rom by rail, if 
the boats happen to be fishing within some few miles 
of that place. 

Between Plymouth and Brizham the fisheries are 
not of great importance, although various modes of 
fishing are carried on, mostly with small boats. During 
the recent inquiry into the state of the general crab and 
lobster fisheries, it was stated by a dealer of forty 
years' experience that there had been no Mling off in 
the number or size of the crabs, and that those from 
Start Bay were the largest he had seen. It is within 
my personal knowledge that the value of the crab 
fishery in Start Bay inoreased immensely in value, as 
soon as facilities were provided for getting the crabs 
quickly to market, by the opening of the railway within 
some few miles of the fishing villages. Lines and seans 
are also worked in this neighbourhood. 

We may now pass on to Brixham, which is an essen- 
tially fishing town, as it has been for long beyond 
living memory. There is good reason to believe that 
Brizham has a just claim to the title of the mother-port 
of trawling. Barking, on the Thames, is also a very 
old station for this kind of fishing, and a claim has also 
been put in for her ; but, in the absence of any precise 
evidence in favour of either town, it is difficult to form 
an opinion on the knotty question. To Brixham, how- 
ever, undoubtedly belongs the credit of specially en- 
couraging the trawling system, and introducing it at 
other places. Bamsgate was directly colonized from 
Brixham, and Hull from Bamsgate and Brixham; 
Grimsby first became a trawling station in consequence 


of a few Hnll trawlers taking up their quarters there ; 
and Brixham men and boats were the means of esta- 
blishing trawling from Dublin, which led to this mode 
of fishing being adopted on several other parts of the 
Irish coast. Barking, on the other hand, has only sent 
boats to Yarmouth; and the superior advantages of 
the North Sea ports have gradually lessened the im- 
portance of Barking as a fishing station. I have said 
that it is difficult to obtain any evidence of the origin 
of trawling at Brixham*, but I may safely say it has 
been carried on from that port for at least a century. 
Froude, possibly by a slip of the pen, spoke, in his 
' History of England,' of there having been trawlers at 
Brixham in the time of Elizabeth (1688); but I can 
find no evidence of such having been the case, although 
there can be little doubt that fishing of some kinds was 
then an important occupation of the Brixham people. 
At the beginning of the present century, the trawl-boats 
were few and small compared with those in use now. 
In 1852 there were about seventy trawlers working 
from Brixham, and there are, probably, not less than 
120 now belonging to the place, and fishing on the 
Brixham trawling ground during the winter season, 
which is the most productive one for trawl fishing. 
Twelve new boats were added to the Brixham fleet 
during 1876, and the building -yards were in the 
autimm of that year in full work on new vessels for 
Brixham and other stations. Special interest attaches 
to Brixham, from its being a place from which trawling 
has been regularly carried on for so long a time on a 
comparatively small extent of fishing ground. Taking 


the extreme length of the trawling gronnd, it may be 
said to extend from Portland to the Start. But less 
than half that distance really comprises the ordinary 
fishing ground. If the effects of trawling were really 
so exhaustive as has been said, the Brixham fishery 
should have come to an end at least fifty years ago ; 
but there is no appearance of such becoming the case 
even now, although within that period the trawlers 
have been nearly quadrupled in number, and more than 
doubled in size. The trawl fishery at Brixham was 
never so prosperous or so profitable as at the present 
day. Everyone there is more or less interested in the 
fishing ; the actual condition of the fishery is generally 
understood, and the savings of the fishermen and of 
many of their friends are invested in it year after year. 
The cost of new trawl-smacks has greatly increased 
within the last ten years ; for, not only are the new 
ones larger than formerly, but all the materials used 
in their construction are more expensive, so that the 
first outlay on a good vessel has risen from 800Z. or 
900Z. to very nearly 1200Z. 

The trawlers keep very steadily at their work. 
Starting early on Monday morning, they return with 
their catch of fish perhaps in the afternoon, but more 
commonly on Tuesday morning. The vessel picks up 
her moorings, but does not lower all her sails, and 
without any delay the fish is landed ; the men then at 
once return to the vessel, and she goes off to her work 
till the next morning ; and this system continues till 
Friday evening or Saturday morning, when the whole 
fleet returns home, and stays in, till Monday comes 


ronnd again. Saturday is spent in mending nets or 
doing anything that may be necessary to the vessel, 
and Sunday is a day of rest for all hands. The fish is 
sold by auction: and women, at one time the only 
sellers, still take some part in the work. The old 
fashion of selling by what is called Dutch auction was 
the only one adopted here until within the last two 
years : then for some reason a change took place, and 
an attempt was made to make the people pay a licence- 
duty for selling by ordinary auction; but I believe 
that the Inland Eevenue Board took a liberal view of 
the matter, and permitted the women to continue their 
occupation without interference, although the modem 
style of auction was regularly adopted. 

I shall have occasion to speak of the extensive use 
of ice on board the North Sea trawlers ; but the short 
distance of the Brixham trawling ground from the 
market makes it unnecessary for the smacks to take 
ice with them to sea. It is largely used, however, in 
packing the fish to be sent away by rail ; and as fast 
as the trawlers come in and land their catches, the fish 
is sold, packed, and forwarded by the next passenger 
train. Most of the Brixham fish is consigned at first 
to Bristol, but long before it arrives there, telegrams 
are sent on from Brixham to direct the sending of dif- 
ferent quantities to London or other markets, according 
to the orders which have been received. There are, 
probably, few business transactions so generally con- 
ducted by telegraph, as the sale of fish. The article is 
essentially a perishable one, and it is of the utmost 
importance to get it into the market without delay ; 


the network of railways and telegraphs all over the 
conntry are, therefore, of the greatest value to the fish- 
ing trade, by enabling the supplies to be sent direct to 
the places where the greatest demand exists. Another 
result from these facilities of communication and transit 
is the general equalization of prices; for, if fish be 
scarce on one part of the coast, it is, as a rule, not so 
everywhere at the same time, so that the inland markets 
are tolerably sure of a supply from one quarter or 
another. Still the demand is an ever-increasing one ; 
fish cannot be supplied from abroad, and there are few 
people in this country who would not like to have it if 
they could. At present France frequently sends to our 
markets, and large numbers of soles and other prime 
fish are sent to Paris. 

Brixham, although essentially a trawling station, is 
also interested in the line fishery, and possesses a large 
fleet of hookers of from five to eight tons, which do good 
work on the productive whiting ground along that part 
of the coast. It is worthy of note, that the trawlers 
work so much on the same ground as is fished by these 
hookers, that there is often a difficulty in keeping clear 
of their anchors ; they both catch whiting, the one by 
hook and the other by net, and they have both regu- 
larly done so as long as can be remembered ; yet the 
whiting season of 1876 was as productive as had been 
known for many years. It appears to me desirable to 
call special attention to these facts, for they afford the 
strongest possible evidence, that systematic trawling for 
a very long series of years over the same ground need 
not exhaust the supply of fish from it, or interfere to 


any appreciable extent with the success of the line 
fishermen working in the same locality. 

I need only add farther about the fisheries from 
Brixham and other places in Torbay, that mackerel, 
herrings, a few pilchards, and plenty of sprats, are 
taken every year either by drift-nets or scans, the latter 
nets being especiaUy used, and the sprats being caught 
by them alone. 

From Torbay for a long stretch of coast as far as 
Sussex, the fisheries are mostly of the ordinary inshore 
character, consisting in a great measure of lining and 
seaning, the latter fishery being especially worked 
along that extensive line of shore terminating to the 
eastward in Portland, and commonly known as the 
Ohesil Bank. The scans are here used for catching 
mackerel, and are of large size, being usually 150 
fathoms long and ten fathoms in their greatest depth. 
They are used as ground seans, and are hauled up on 
the beach. From April to October is the general 
season for this fishery. We may here mention that 
pilchards are rarely caught on the English side of the 
Channel eastward of Portland, although they are said 
to be found much farther up Channel on the French 
side. We occasionally hear of pilchards as far east as 
the Thames, but they are not numerous even on all 
parts of the Devonshire coast. We must go to Corn- 
wall or to the south of Ireland to see them in abun- 
dance, and to .the Cornish coast to find out their real 

In the Solent the only novelty in the fisheries is the 
somewhat extensive use of the stow-net, described at 


page 93, by the fishermen of Itchen, Cowes, and Ports- 
month. It is nsed during the regular sprat season, 
lasting from November to February, and vast quanti- 
ties of these fish are caught in those months, and for 
the most part landed at Southampton. As we pro- 
ceed eastward, drift fishing for mackerel and herrings 
becomes more general, and Brighton and Hastings 
come into especial notice. The larger boats from 
these places go long distances to take part in the 
mackerel fishery, and the Brighton boats especially 
join with the Comishmen at the earlier part of the 
season in working at the mouth of the Channel. The 
almost continuous line of beach along the Sussex coast 
requires a particular style of fishing boat for conye- 
nience in launching and hauling up where there is no 
harbour : they are, accordingly, built with very flat 
floors and large bilge-pieces to keep them upright 
when they are out of the water. Brighton once had a 
name for a class of boats in which these peculiarities 
were carried to excess, and they are still not entirely 
extinct. These, the representatives of what many 
years ago was the typical form of Brighton fishing 
boats, are known by the name of ** hog-boats." They 
are rigged with two spritsails and a jib ; but the lug- 
rig is now by common consent approved as that most 
suited for drift fishing, from the facility with which 
the mast can be lowered and put out of the way, and 
the few remaining hog-boats are now rarely used except 
for inshore trawling. The modem drift-boats are not 
only larger than formerly, but are faster and more com- 
fortable craft. 


The sean fishery for mackerel at Brighton has long 
been worked at the regnlar season, and sometinies with 
considerable profit ; bat it has always been an imcer- 
tain one, as it of course depends on whether or not the 
fish come close inshore. 

The successful working of the kettle nets in the 
neighbourhood of Hastings is also subject to the 
same conditions. In some years enormous catches of 
mackerel have been made by them, whilst in others the 
fish have not come within their reach. 

Bye Bay has long been known as excellent trawling 
ground during a certain time of the year. It has been 
worked by small trawlers as long as can be remem- 
bered, and is still productive at the regular season, 
when, as the fishermen say, the fish come in. Great 
objections were at one time raised to this inshore 
trawling ; but, since the results of the fishery were in- 
quired into, and it appeared that it had been carried on 
so long, and it was still well worth while for a consider- 
able number of fishing boats to work there, less has been 
heard of the supposed injury to the general fisheries by 
the capture of some quantity of small fish, which always 
more or less takes place in shallow water. 

At other seasons the Hastings and other boats trawl 
successfully on the long-famous Diamond Grounds, off 
this part of the coast ; and the Yame and the Bidge in 
mid-Channel are much resorted to by the Dover and 
Folkestone boats. 

Bamsgate is the next important fishing station on 
the coast, and it is remarkable for the steady develop- 
ment of its trawl fishery. Early in the present cen- 


inry there were three or four open fishing boats, which 
were used for trawling near the shore. But about 
forty years ago, a few Brixham men took their smacks 
to Bamsgate, and the fleet of deep-sea trawlers has 
been gradually increasing ever since, especially during 
the last few years. In 1875 there were 147 flrst-class 
Ashing boats, averaging over thirty-five tons, on the 
Bamsgate Begister, and the whole of these, we believe 
we are correct in saying, were sea-going trawl-smacks. 
The home fishing ground is from north to east of the 
North Foreland, but in winter many of the smacks go 
farther away into the North Sea, and land their fish at 
other ports, as the neighbourhood of Bamsgate is dan- 
gerous in bad weather, and trawlers like, if possible, to 
get out of the way of other vessels. 

The actual fisheries carried on in the Thames con- 
sist of little more than shrimping, oyster-dredging, and 
stow-net fishing for sprats; but London still has a 
considerable number of firsts-class fishing boats on her 
register, as Barking comes within the London district. 
Barking was once a very important station, and the 
head quarters of the earlier North Sea trawlers. But 
no smacks have been built there for many years past, 
and it is difficult to fix any precise time for the com- 
mencement of its trawl fishery. In my notice of 
Brixham, I mentioned that it was a question, to which 
of these two places belonged the honour of introducing 
deep-sea trawling ; but as all records on the subject 
are wanting, there is every probability of the matter 
remaining undecided. The official returns of fishing 
boats unfortunately give no idea of what fishing they 


are used for ; and the Custom House authorities have 
instructions to give no information to inquirers, owing, 
I understand, to newspaper correspondents having 
before now obtained details which were published in a 
form calculated to mislead the public, or to be mis- 
understood by them. I cannot therefore give a pre- 
cise account of the number of trawlers, and of cod- 
boats comprised in the London return. I have been 
indebted to boat owners before now for approximate 
particulars on such points, but it will be readily 
understood that there are great difficulties in the way 
of obtaining such information, inasmuch as it inyolves 
considerable trouble on the part of those who may be 
in a position to obtain it ; and very few business men 
care about collecting statistics for those, who appa- 
rently have only their own purposes to serve in 
seeking for them. I have mentioned these circum- 
stances here, because such difGiculties are more felt 
among a large community than a small one ; but they 
interfere, in all places, with a true understanding of 
the subject, unless local knowledge helps to supply 
what is wanting. In the case of the London Betums 
I can venture to say, from information gathered else- 
where, that the general tendency is to reduce the 
number of boats registered in London, and to increase 
those registered at Yarmouth and other North Sea 
ports; for every year shows better the advantage of 
fishing from the nearest port; and as systematic fishing 
by both trawl and line is now carried on far out in the 
North Sea at certain seasons, and at all times largely 
at some distance from the land, I have reason to 


tlunk the number of boats registered in London is not 
likely to increase, bat, on the contrary, to diminish. 
When new yessels are built, most of them will be 
registered from where they fish. There are many 
large salesmen in London, however, who have still 
some interest in Barking, and their new vessels will 
probably be registered in London ; but if the fishing 
trade should continue to extend as it has during the 
last few years, we may look for the principal increase 
at the outports. Li 1852, when I succeeded in ob- 
taining precise information about the London boats, 
there were 149, of which 110 were trawlers and 39 
codnsmacks. In 1875 the total number was reduced 
to 134. But Yarmouth, Grimsby, and Hull, had largely 
increased during that interval. 

The trawl-fish sent to Billingsgate are forwarded 
either by rail or water carriage, depending to a great 
extent on what part of the coast the fish are caught, 
and also on the facilities afforded by favourable winds 
for bringing it direct to London. At some of the east 
coast ports, Grimsby and Hull in particular, the quan- 
tity of fish landed and sent away by rail has steadily 
increased. These are the places from which the 
numerous inland markets are largely supplied; and 
the smacks belonging there, which usually take such 
immense numbers of plaice and haddocks, only occa- 
sionally come up the Thames. London, however, is 
the great market for soles, and a large proportion of 
these fish is sent to Billingsgate, many of them to be 
afterwards forwarded to the country, and not uncom- 
monly to the port where they were landed. 



Steam carriers have been sncoessfiilly employed for 
some few years past in collecting the fish from the 
North Sea trawlers and bringing it to London ; and 
there are now five of these steamers kept in constant 
work, besides sailing vessels. 

An industry of some importance of its kind has its 
head quarters at Leigh, a few miles above Southend. 
This is the well-known shrimp fishery, the proceeds of 
which are sent in such large quantities to the London 
market. The shrimp net used here for catching the 
brown or true shrimp, is peculiar to the Thames and 
its immediate neighbourhood, and is practically a 
beam-trawl, with a second beam below instead of a 
ground-rope. This lower beam is made of a stout piece 
of oak nine feet long, two and a half inches thick, and 
three and a half wide, and is weighted with about 
twenty-five pounds of lead run into spaces excavated 
on the upper side. The upper beam or pole is only 
six feet long, and is supported at the centre by a stout 
stick about a foot and a half high, which is securely 
fixed into the middle of the lower beam. A bag-net 
is fastened to these two parallel pieces of wood, and 
tightly strained at the ends, this framework forming 
the mouth of the net, which is about twelve feet in 
length, and tapers rapidly to the free end. The meshes 
are necessarily very small, so that the shrimps may not 
pass through. A simple but ingenious plan is adopted 
to prevent stones and small rubbish entering the net 
whilst it is being towed over the ground, and at the 
same time not to interfere with the capture of the 
shrimps. It is founded on the observed habit these ani- 








K 2 


mals have of rising a few inches from the ground when 
they are disturbed, and consists in leaving a space of 
two or three inches between the lower edge of the 
mouth of the net, and the beam to which it is fastened 
at the two ends and the centre. Through this narrow 
opening, sand, seaweed, and such small rubbish as is 
likely to be met with on the shrimping ground, easily 
pass, whilst the shrimps spring above the gap and find 
their way into the net. 

The shrimping boats are small-decked smacks about 
thirty- two feet over all ; they carry a good deal of 
lofty sail, but for the sake of convenience have no 
main boom. The best season is during the early part 
of the summer ; the shrimping is worked, however, by 
some of the boats throughout the year. Two or three 
of these nets are used by each boat, and are kept down 
from a quarter of an hour to an hour at a time, depend- 
ing on the wind and the extent of ground they have 
been over. The shrimps are sifted as soon as caught, 
and those of the size permitted to be landed under 
the regulations of the Thames Conservancy are at 
once put into the boat's well to be kept alive till 
they are taken on shore in the afternoon. They 
are then boiled, and sent off by train in time for 
the London market the next morning. As many as 
2000 gallons of shrimps are sometimes sent from 
Leigh in one day. 

Some small trawlers work at the mouth of the 
Thames for flat flsh and prawns, or "red shrimps," 
using the ordinary form of beam-trawl, with beams 
sixteen or eighteen feet long. Besides these fish. 


oyster-dredging is extonsiTel; carried on over certain 
grounds for the coUeotioD of " spat " and " brood," to 

be laid down ou the beda of the varioDS oyster com- 
panies on both sides of tiie estnary ; but the best mode 


of dealing with the falling off in the supply of oysters, 
is a qnestion which has not yet been settled by either 
theorists or practical fishermen. I have previously 
noticed the considerable fishing for sprats at the mouth 
of the Thamesj when describing the construction and 
manner of working of the stow-net ; and I need only 
add, that most of the larger craft at other times em- 
ployed in oyster-dredging are in winter used in ^ stow- 

Northward of the Thames we come to Harwich, 
whose history as a fishing station is somewhat remark- 
able, for it exhibits a rise to a position of the first 
importance in connection with a particular kind of 
fishery, and then a gradual decline to insignificance ; 
not because of the particular fishing trade ceasing to 
exist, but owing to its transfer to other ports. Harwich 
was at one time the great station for the North Sea cod- 
boats, and to her is due the credit of introducing into 
this country the welled smacks, by means of which the 
London markets have been for the last hundred and 
fifty years supplied with what is known in the trade as 
''live cod." From a statement prepared by the late 
Mr. Groom, an old resident at Harwich, it appears that 
the first welled-smack used in this country was built 
at Harwich in 1712, and there were three vessels of 
that description constructed between that year and 
1715. In the year 1720, the number had increased to 
twelve, and in 1785, to thirty. Of that number, Mr. 
Nathaniel Saunders (the progenitor of the three gene- 
rations of well-known fish-factors and salesmen at 


Billingsgate) had six, and with four of these, which 
were very superior to the other two, he visited the 
coast of Scotland in the course of his fishing expe- 
ditions, and was at that time the chief medium for 
conveying goods to and from the north of Scotland. 
In the year 1745, his four smacks were engaged by the 
Government to carry the loyalist troops across the 
Moray Firth from Mickle Ferry to Inverness, from 
which place they proceeded to the memorable battle 
of Onlloden. In 1766, a Mr. Olibar, a fishing-smack 
owner at Harwich, made the first attempt to fish for 
cod with long lines on the Dogger Bank ; but although 
he was very unsuccessful, he still persevered, and at 
last was so fortunate, that in 1774 the number of 
smacks had increased to sixty-two, of which forty 
went regularly to the Dogger Bank to fish with long 
lines. In 1788 there were seventy-eight smacks, and in 
1798 the number had increased to ninety-six. About this 
period a few attempts we^ made at Gravesend, Green- 
wich, and Barking, to construct smacks of a similar de- 
scription, and the Harwich fishery gradually declined. 
In 1852 there were only five cod-smacks belonging 
to Harwich, and there has been very little alteration 
since that date. Harwich is, however, still used as a 
storing place for live cod, and cargoes of these fish are 
regularly delivered there from smacks hailing from 
Gravesend and other places on the Thames, the state 
of that river being such as to make it hopeless to 
keep the cod long alive in it. The store-chests for 
cod at Harwich are moored in the tideway, and are 



Harwich Cod-chest. 

constructed on the same principle as those I have 
previously described as being used at Grimsby ; but 

in order that they may 
offer less resistance to 
the stream, their ends are 
rounded off, giving them 
a somewhat boat-shaped 
appearance. This form is 
unnecessary in the quiet 
water of the Grimsby fish- 
dock, and the oblong shape there adopted is more con- 
venient for economizing room, and entails less expense 
in construction. 

A few deep-sea trawlers sometimes work from Har- 
wich, and trawling for prawns is carried on along the 
adjoining coast. There is also some fishing in the 
Harwich river by means of a net called a "trim-tram," 
very much the same as the Leigh shrimp-net, which 
appears to me to be very supetior for its purpose, and is 
probably an improved form of it. The distinguishing 
feature in the trim-tram is the presence of a triangular 
wooden frame resting on the ground in front of the 
lower beam, and it may answer the possible purpose of 
keeping the mouth of the net upright, and turning aside 
any rubbish which may be in front of the net; but 
there is an obvious disadvantage in this frame disturb- 
ing the shrimps and fish at some little distance before 
they can enter the net. The average quantity of fish 
carried annually by the Great Eastern ^Bailway from 
Harwich in the last fifteen years is 2000 tons, and this 
has principally consisted of cod. 


Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth next claim onr atten- 
tion, the latter especially, as it it still famous for its 
herring fishery, which has been carried on annually in 
its regular season for at least 700 years. Lowestoft 
has taken rank as a fishing station, only since the rail- 
way was brought to the town and the harbour was 
constructed; and these advantages were not obtained 
until within, comparatively speaking, the last few 
years. The following statistics will show how rapid 
has been the growth of the Lowestoft fisheries, con- 
sisting of drifting for herrings and mackerel, and 
trawling. In 1854 there were 32 fishing boats belong- 
ing to the place ; in 1863 they had increased to 174, 
of which eight were deep-sea trawlers ; in 1872, the 
number of fii'st-class boats, including the larger drift- 
boats and trawlers, was 269, averaging 27 tons ; und 
besides these, there were 258 drift and other fishing 
boats under 15 tons, and ranking in the second and 
third classes. The last of&cial return is for 1875, and 
we there find that the first-class boats of all kinds are 
stated to have been 325, averaging over 30 tons, and 
274 boats under 15 tons. The increase in the fishing 
from Lowestoft has therefore been enormous; and it 
will appear the more remarkable, when we take into 
consideration that Lowestoft is only a few miles from 
Yarmouth, the fisheries are of the same kind from 
both places, and Yarmouth shows no sign of its fishing 
boats decreasing. Three distinct herring fisheries are 
carried on from Lowestoft, and are known as the 
spring, midsummer, and autumn fisheries. The spring 
fishing is only of recent date, and very little attention 


was given to it nntil about 1852. It is commencecl 
about the middle of March in deep water, fifty or sixty 
miles from the land ; but the fish are then very small, 
and fetch only a low price in the market, being scarcely 
fit for anything but manure. Nets with meshes below 
the usual size are necessary for catching them, and it 
is believed by many people that this fishing is begun 
much too early. As the season advances, the fish come 
gradually nearer the land, increase in size, put on fSat, 
and become more marketable. This fishery lasts till 
the first week in May, when the fish appear to become 
scarce, and the fishermen get ready for the summer 
fishery, which requires nets with a larger mesh. The 
interval between the two fisheries is very short, often 
only a week ; and when the work is resumed, the fish 
are found at only a few miles from the coast. The 
condition of these fish leads to the belief that they are 
only the remains of the spring shoals, as they are of 
the same description as those previously caught, and 
without any development of roe, but they are still 
fatter. It is difficult to understand why there should 
be any scarcity of fish for the short time between the 
two fisheries, if they really belong to the same shoals ; 
but such appears to be the case. Some connection 
between them seems likely, for undoubtedly the sum- 
mer fishery has several times been a short one after an 
abundant spring fishing, although such is not always 
the case. The midsummer fishing lasts till the middle 
of July, and the fish are in great request for the fresh 
market. After that no herrings are caught till the im- 
portant autumn fishery begins, about the first week in 


September. It has been thought that the fish then 
taken must be the same as were on the coast in July ; 
but it is difficult to understand how this should be the 
case, or if it be so, why the herrings should entirely 
disappear for six or seven weeks, and then show 
themselves in nearly the same locality, or even far- 
ther out. It is clear, however, that there must be 
vast additions to their numbers, even if some of the 
shoals be the same, for the autumn fishery is far larger 
than the others, and most of the fish are in spawning 

The connection of Yarmouth with the herring fishery 
dates from the time when the first houses of the town 
were built, if we may credit the traditions and records 
on the subject; and considerable interest attaches to 
the fishery on that account. Without going into the 
earliest accounts of the fishery as given by Swinden 
and Manship, there is no doubt that it was well esta- 
blished when Henry I. granted a charter to the town 
in 1108. It is therefore certain that the Yarmouth 
herring fishery has been carried on for at least 750 
years ; and no more conclusive argument can be brought 
forward in reply to those persons who believe our fish- 
eries are becoming exhausted, than the fSact that the 
most abundant fisheries which have been obtained by 
the Yarmouth men, have been within the last ten 
years. It is worthy of note also, that the earliest re- 
cords of this fishery speak of the fishermen and buyers 
assembling from various places about the Feast of 
8t. Michael (the 29th of September) at the place 
where Yarmouth now stands, so that the commence- 


ment of the fishery at that period was just at the 
same time as it is at the present day. For although 
the Yarmouth boats now generally begin fishing in 
July, they then go some distance north, and the 
home fishery is only carried on from September to 

In my account of drift-net fishing, I have de- 
scribed the boats and nets used at Yarmouth, so I 
need now only say a few words about the treatment 
of the fish after they have been landed. The boats 
generally run into the hayen, and land their cargoes 
direct at the new fish-market, which is conveniently 
placed by the side of the river, and can at any time be 
extended, if more space is required. The entrance to 
the haven is, however, dangerous in certain weather, 
and the fish is then landed on the beach in front of the 
town. For this purpose, large boats, called *' ferry- 
boats," are employed, and not many years ago, all the 
fish was landed in this manner. These boats fetch 
the fish from the luggers which have anchored at a 
short distance from the shore. Baskets, called " swills," 
are used for carrying the herrings, each one holding 
about 500 good-sized fish. The boats return thus 
loaded, and are brought broadside to the beach ; then 
two beachmen take one of the baskets between them, 
each supporting it with one hand in front and letting 
it rest on their clasped hands behind ; in this way they 
are carried up the beach and placed in rows, two deep, 
ready for the sale, which takes place as soon as all the 
cargo is landed. 

On the east coast of England, excepting in the neigh- 



bourhood of Scotland, herrings are reckoned by the 
'* last," nominally consisting of 10,000 fish, but actu- 
ally of 13,200. The following is the mode of com- 
putation : 

4 herrings 


1 warp. 

33 warps 


1 hundred 


132 fish 

10 hundred 


1 thousand 




10 thousand 






A " hundred " of mackerel, however, only contains 
30 warps, or 120 fish. 

The new fish-market was completed in 1867, and 
since that year an accurate account has been kept of 
the herrings landed there. 

The following statement shows the number of lasts 
of fish received at the market in each of the nine years, 
1868-76 ; and, as a " last " contains 13,200 fish, some 
idea may be formed of the produce of the Yarmouth 
herring fishery, even without taking into consideration 
what has been landed at Grimsby by some of the 
Yarmouth boats : 



1868 . 

.. .. 15,098 

1873 .. 

.. 18.796 

1869 . 

. .. 13,608 

1874 .. 

.. 17.724 


.. .. 19,420 

1875 .. 

.. 11,820 

1871 . 

.. .. 19,008 

1876 .. 

.. 12,824 

1872 . 

. .. 14,450 

The herrings are sold by ordinary auction, and are 
put up at so much per last ; many of the curers have 
their own boats, and agree with the crews to give them 
a certain sum per last for all the fish they bring in ; 


and this generally answers well for both parties ; but 
it occasionally happens that fish are very abnndant, and 
the cnrers are obliged to take at contract prices all 
that their men catch, when the market price is much 
below it. 

On the arrival of the herrings at the coring house, 
they are all washed to get rid of the salt put upon 
them on board ship as soon as they are caught ; and 
then, without being gutted or any other preparation, 
they are again put into salt, that from Liverpool being 
the kind generally used. Their subsequent treatment 
depends on whether they are to be made into bloaters 
or red herrings. Bloaters are usually selected fish, 
full-roed, and of the best quality. The finest are 
made in October and part of November; but as any 
herring can be made into a bloater, and there is 
always a demand for them, their manufacture is carried 
on throughout the season with the best fish that can be 
obtained. Strictly speaking, a bloater is nothing more 
than a herring very slightly cured ; it is kept in salt 
from twelve to eighteen hours, and then smoked for 
about twenty-four hours. At the end of that time it is 
fit for market, and the sooner it is used, the better will 
be the flavour. " Bed, well-cured, or high-dried her- 
rings," as they are variously called, are, according to 
the general rule, kept in salt for fourteen days, then 
washed, and hung in wood smoke for another fort- 
night This is so contrary to the Scotch mode of 
curing red herrings, that I have heard doubts ex- 
pressed about the curing at Yarmouth taking so long ; 
but the time I have mentioned is strictly correct. 


Under certain circmnBtances, however, it has been the 
practice during the last few years to give only half 
the time to the curing, and to export such fish by 
steamer to some of the Mediterranean markets, where 
they are soon disposed of; but it is not considered safe 
to consign any but " well-cured" herrings generally to 
foreign markets, especially in warm climates. Bloaters 
ue sometimes prepared in the same way, remaining a 
shorter time in salt and smoke than usual, but they 
also will not bear keeping. 

Women are employed in the curing, and the fish, 
after being washed, are '* rived " or strung on " spits," 
thin sticks about 4J feet long, which are thrust into 
the mouth and out through one of the gills. Twenty- 
five fish are put on each stick. The spits are then 
taken to the smoke room, a lofty room, perhaps about 
16 feet square, having a series of wooden frames reach- 
ing from floor to roof, with small transverse beams, 
called '* loves," beginning at 6 or 7 feet from the 
ground, and reaching from one side of the room to the 
other. These frames are 4 feet apart, and the spits 
are placed in rows, one above another, between them, 
the ends of the spits resting on the loves of adjoin- 
ing frames. The roof is covered with tiles, unoemented, 
so as to allow a good draught through the room, which, 
when filled, contains three lasts of fish. On the stone 
floor of this room about sixteen fires are made, the fuel 
generally being oak billets, as the smoke from this 
wood gives a high colour to the fish. Ash timber, 
however, is soiyietimes used when a particular colour 
is required for some of the foreign markets. The 


spits of fish having been placed on the loves nntil 
all the space is filled, the fires are lighted and kept 
burning for two days. They are then let oat, and the 
fish allowed to drip or drain for a day ; the fires are 
again lighted for two days more, and this process of 
alternately smoking and dripping is continued for a 
fortnight : at the end of that time the herrings, then 
thoroughly cured, are called '^ high-dried/' and are fit 
for packing. This is done in barrels, two men being 
engaged in the operation ; one, standing with the spit 
in his hand, tells off the fish into the barrel, sliding 
them from the spit four at a time. These are, for con- 
venience, counted as two, and the packing is done by 
the other man as rapidly as the teller counts the 2, 4, 
6, 8, 10, 12, which would represent 24 fish. When the 
barrel is filled to the head, a screw-press is brought to 
bear on the fish, and they are flattened down so as 
to allow an additional number to be stowed away, 650 
full-sized fish being about the number packed in each 
barrel, or a larger number of smaller fish. The manu- 
facturer's name and the number of fish are marked on 
each barrel, and the package is then ready for export- 
ation to Italy, the Greek islands, and the Levant. 
For the home market the herrings are packed in flat 

The mackerel fishery is carried on by the Yarmouth 
boats from the middle of May to the middle of July, 
but has not been so generally successful in recent 
years as it used to be. The ground worked in this 
fishery lies between Yarmouth and the Dutch coast. 
It is carried on with the same boats, and in the same 


manner, as the herring fishery, and cotton is now used 
there as the material for mackerel nets. 

Trawling has been carried on from Yarmouth for 
the last thirty years ; but the importance of the place 
as a trawling station dates from ten years later, when, 
as I have previously related, the vessels belonging to 
the late Mr. Samuel Hewett first made that port their 
head quarters. Since that time the number of trawlers 
has been gradually increasing, although not so rapidly 
within the last few years as in the ports of the Hum- 
ber. I have lately heard, however, that the increase 
is still going on. The system of collecting the fish 
from the trawlers, and sending it on shore by special 
vessels, has long been at work in connection with the 
Thiames and Yarmouth smacks, as their fish, as a rule, 
comes to the London market. Mr. Hewett had, at one 
time, as many as eighteen " carriers " in almost con- 
stant work ; and the same plan is still in operation, 
sometimes by special vessels, or at others by one of the 
regular trawlers, which fills up from the vessels of the 
fleet, generally working in the same neighbourhood at 
particular seasons, and giving a receipt to each smack 
for the number of packages she sends. Before the 
introduction of ice, everything depended on the carriers 
making a quick passage ; it was racing work with them, 
and great was the wear and tear of canvas and spars. 
But the captain received a percentage on the price 
obtained for his cargo, and so he got every mile out of 
the vessel in the shortest time possible. Time is, of 
course, still important ; but the loss of a day or two is 
not of so much consequence as formerly. The steam 




carriers, now doing part of the work, average 2800 
packages of fish in each voyage. Besides the fish sent 
direct to Londou by water carriage, a large quantity is 
also landed at Yarmouth and sent away by rail to 
various markets. Ice, for the use of the trawlers, is 
mainly imported from Norway, but a good deal is also 
procured in this country, especially from Norfolk and 
Lincolnshire. The number of fishing boats in the 
Yarmouth district, which includes very few besides 
those belonging to Yarmouth, has increased from 1002 
in 1872, to 1018 in 1875. Of these, there were 532 
boats averaging over 34 tons, in the first class, and 
consisting of drift boats and trawlers. The Yar- 
mouth fisheries can hardly be considered, under all 
the circumstances, to be in otherwise than a thriving 

The characteristic fisheries of Cromer and Shoring- 
ham, between Yarmouth and the Wash, are for crabs 
and lobsters, and, owing to the diminished success 
attending them, certain restrictions as to the size of 
these animals allowed to be caught have been imposed 
by an Act of Parliament recently passed. The fisher- 
men at Cromer have, for some years past, agreed on 
certain regulations as to the size of the crabs and 
lobsters they should keep and sell, but the effect has 
not been to add to the supply of these crustaceans. 
By the recent Act, a considerable extent of coast has 
become subject to regulations having the same end in 
view, but it is too early to say anything about the 
result. It is to be hoped, however, that a fair trial 
will be given to the Act, and that we may be able to 


ascertain how fax protection is of advantage, for the 
purpose of keeping up the supply of crabs and lobsters 
on our coast. 

The fisheries in the Wash are of several kinds, but 
the most important are those for shrimps and mussels. 
The latter indeed are of consequence far beyond the 
locality, for the line fishermen, on a long stretch of 
coast northward, depend to a great extent upon them 
for a supply, of suitable bait. Jurisdiction is claimed 
by the corporations of Lynn and Boston over the 
fisheries carried on respectively on the Lynn and Bos- 
ton deeps; but it may be a question, whether these 
fisheries have derived any real benefit from being 
under corporate supervision. Stow-boating for sprats 
is one of the regular winter fisheries, and there is a 
small fishery for herrings carried on at the same time. 
Shrimps, and some flat fish, are taken here by small 
trawlers, and the trim-nets, previously described, are 
worked at times with advantage. 

The coast beyond the Wash includes two of the 
most important fishing stations on the English coast. 
These are Great Grimsby and Hull. The history of 
Grimsby as a fishing station is so modem, that I am 
able to record something of its rise and progress. Its 
situation near the entrance of the Humber, and the 
advantage it consequently had in many respects over 
Hull, were, to a great extent, lost sight of by the 
trawlers, whilst the railway from the older town pro- 
vided the only convenient means of sending away their 
fish ; but it had been for several years connected with 
the deep-sea cod fishery on account of its situation, 

L 2 


and the purity of the water there compared with what 
was found at HuU. In fact, cod would live in store - 
chests at Grimsby, when they could not do so at Hull. 
At last some Hull trawl-smack owners thought of 
making the other port their permanent head quarters, 
as there was every prqspect of the Manchester, Shef- 
field, and Lincolnshire Eailway Company soon com- 
pleting their line to the place. In 1858 five trawlers 
made Grimsby their regular station, and in the fol- 
lowing year the railway was opened to the town. 
Since that date the Grimsby fisheries have rapidly 
increased, as the advantages of the port have become 
recognized. In 1868 there were 70 trawlers belonging 
to the place; in 1872, only nine years later, the 
trawlers numbered 248, and there were 82 cod-smacks, 
all belonging to, and fishing from, Grimsby. In 1875 
the number of first-class boats was 392, averaging over 
55 tons ; these included a few small smacks used in 
the whelk fishery, but all the rest were trawlers and 
cod-boats. The average tonnage of these last two 
kinds of fishing boats was above 55 tons, many of them 
being 70 tons ; and some of the vessels built in 1876 
for trawling are as much as 80 tons. 

The courtesy of Mr. Beed, the dock-master at 
Grimsby, enables me to give the following return of 
the quantity of fish landed at the docks in each of the 
twenty years, 1856-75; and although this does not 
represent the whole proceeds of the fisheries from 
Grimsby, some quantity of fish being sent by carriers 
direct to London, and, for some years past, herrings 
being landed here from some of the Yarmouth drift- 



boats, it gives a good idea of the growth of the local 
fish tra£&c during the period. It must be remembered, 
also, that the rise of Grimsby as a fishing station has 
not been at the expense of Hull, as I shall presently 
show, for the increase of trawlers has been going on 
there and at other stations on the east and south coasts 
during the same time. 

Return of the quantity of fish landed at Orimsby 
from 1866 to 1876 : 



1856 .. . 


1866 .. . 

.. 15,692 

1857 .. . 

. 3,435 

1867 .. . 

. 19,416 

1858 .. . 

. 4,344 

1868 .. . 

.. 21,621 

1859 .. . 

. 4,742 

1869 .. . 

.. 24,140 

1860 .. . 

. 4,842 

1870 .. 

.. 26,324 

1861 .. . 

. 5,371 

1871 .. . 

. 30,857 

1862 .. . 

. 8.521 

1872 .. 

.. 31,193 

1863 .. . 

. 9,408 

1873 . . 

.. 34,876 

1864 .. . 

. 11,198 

1874 .. 

,. 35,134 

1865 .. . 

. 13,368 

1875 .. 

.. 34,881 

Of late years, an annual average of about 4000 tons 
of herrings has been landed at Grimsby from Tar- 
mouth and Lowestoft drift-boats, but in 1876 the 
quantity was much less than usual. Grimsby has 
large docks devoted to the fishing smacks, and a 
covered landing wharf 882 feet long and 48 feet wide, 
which also answers the purpose of a fish market. 
This large space may be seen every morning covered 
with fish from one end to the other, and salesmen and 
buyers busily engaged in selling, buying, and packing 
the fish. The sales are, as usual in the wholesale 
market, entirely by auction. Everything has been 


done at Orimsby to develop the fish trade; the ice 
companies have their storehouses opposite the market, 
and the railway trucks are brought to the side of the 
wharf so as to be loaded direct from the market. 

On the other side of the Humber, and farther up 
the river, we come to Hull, which has been a trawling 
station for the last thirty years. There were one or 
two trawlers previously belonging to the port; but 
about 1845 there was a migration thither from Briz- 
ham and Bamsgate, and 40 trawlers fished from Hull 
in that year. It was soon after the discovery of the 
famous Silver Pit; and this led to the systematic 
prosecution of the North Sea trawl fishery. The suc- 
cess attending these vessels induced other smack- 
owners to settle at Hull, new vessels were turned out 
every year, and in 1863, the fleet consisted of nearly 
270 trawlers. In 1872, the number had increased to 
313. The Eegister for 1874 shows 857 fishing boats 
in the first class, and a few shrimping boats are in- 
cluded in this number ; but the Betum for 1875 shows 
a decrease of one vessel, and a very considerable dimi- 
nution in the aggregate tonnage of the whole number. 
That this was a mistake was obvious to anyone ac- 
quainted with the state of the Hull trawl fishery, and 
I have obtained precise information from Hull showing 
that, so fiir from there having been any diminution of 
trawl vessels there, a considerable increase in their 
number took place in 1875, and large additions were 
being made in 1876. The largest smacks at Grimsby 
and Hull in 1872 were 70 tons ; but some of the 


▼essels now building for the same pnrpoBe are as much 
as 80 tons. 

Before ice became so generally used as it is at 
present, the Hull smacks usually fished in fleets, and 
sent their fish in every day by whichever vessel was 
going home. Each vessel then stayed out for six weeks 
at a time, and there was a constant succession of 
smacks joining and leaving the fleet When a vessel's 
turn came to go home, she hoisted a flag, and all the 
others sent their fish on board, carefully packed in 
baskets, with a fish-note containing particulars of their 
number and contents as jdelivered by each vessel. On 
her arrival at the Hull docks, she was placed under a 
steam-crane, and the fish hoisted out, the master 
handing in his manifest or *' pot-list," as it was called, 
so that each salesman might know what fish was con- 
signed to him, and from which vessels it was sent. 
But about twelve years ago, when the advantage of the 
use of ice had become evident, twenty of the Hull 
smacks were fitted as ^ ice-cutters " to collect the fish, 
and carry it partly to Hull and partly to London ; and 
these are still kept at work from May t6 September, 
the trawlers during that time fishing in fleets of from 
twenty to fifty vessels. From September to May, how- 
ever, quite a different system is adopted, for there is 
generally no want of wind then, and each vessel brings 
in her own catch. An air-tight compartment is fitted 
in the hold, called the " ice-box," in which from two 
to four tons of Norwegian ice are placed when the 
smack starts on her trip. As the fish is caught it is 


stowed away in btilk, with broken ice between each 
layer, and this is continued till a good quantity of fish 
has been collected. Then the vessel returns to port, 
after an absence of, perhaps, ten or fourteen days. 
The fish are taken out loose and all sold by weight, 
the buyer finding the packages : those now regularly 
used being small barrels holding about ten or twelve 
stone of fish, and called ^' kits." In these the fish are 
packed with alternate layers of crushed ice, and then 
forwarded to the fishmongers all over the country. 
Pads, trunks, and pots — as the old-fashioned measures 
were called — are quite gone out of use at Hull, and 
are becoming more so every day at other places. The 
ice now annually used at Hull in connection with the 
fisheries is about 25,000 tons. 

A considerable number of small craft belonging to 
the second class, find employment in the Humber and 
along the coast to Flamborough in shrimping or line- 
fishing, and in Bridlington Bay in trawling for flat 
fish, but there is nothing in these fisheries requiring 
special notice. 

From Flamborough northward nearly as far as Holy 
Island, the peculiar boats called '* cobles" are in 
regular use. They vary a good deal in size, but are 
all built on one principle and with one object, that of 
readily beaching, stem foremost, in a surf. The bow 
is built with a considerable rise, and is sharp and 
hollow below, but the keel extends only for a little 
more than half the length of the boat. The after-part 
of the bottom is flat, with a runner or false keel on 
each side of the central plank, and carried so tax for- 


ward as to. overlap tlie end of the tme keel &om the 
bow. The result of this construction is that the coble 
can be backed up with great &cility on the beach, the 

flat keel-plank and false keels ke^ng her steady and 
upright, whilst the hollow bow throws off the waves 
which may be beating her on the shore. These boats 


are built with broad planks, and the two npper ones 
'* tnmble in " at the quarters, giving the stem a boxed- 
in appearance. They are very useful boats, and will 
stand a good deal of bad weather, but are rather 
dangerous when running before a sea. The fashion 
has long been to paint the cobles in stripes of yellow, 
green, and red, thus giving a still more quaint appear- 
ance to these peculiarly constructed boats. 

Crabs and lobsters are caught all along this range 
of coast in creels or cages having a rectangular bottom, 
and the top rounded, with the usual mouse-trap open- 
ings at the sides ; the whole framework, except at the 
entrances, being covered with netting. A variation in 
the form of trap is, however, adopted at Flamborough, 
and it requires much more skill in using it, but it will 
take larger lobsters and crabs than the others. It is 
called a " trunk," and consists merely of an iron ring 
about two feet across, with a shallow net suspended 
from it. The bait is fastened in the centre to a cross 
line, and three lines placed at equal distances from 
each other on the ring unite above to form a handle, 
to which is fastened thQ rope used in lowering and 
raising it. A number of these trunks are lowered to 
the bottom, in suitable localities, and after a time are 
hauled up. It is in the raising of the trunks that the 
dificulty of working them properly consists, for the 
top of the trunk is quite open, and anything within it 
may easily escape. The greatest care is therefore 
necessary, especially just when it comes to the surface, 
as at that time the lobsters are apt to make a sudden 
spring backwards and clear the ring. 


Along the north-east coast of England the fisheries 
are mainly for herrings by drift nets, and cod, haddock, 
tnrbot, hoUbut, coalfish, and some others by long lines. 
An exception occurs, however, at Scarborough, which 
is a trawling station, and takes precedence of Hull in 
that respect by about ten years, although it is now far 
behind it in importance as regards both the number 
and size of its fishing boats. The Scarborough 
fisheries, in fact, include several kinds, and the same 
boats are used for each in turn. The regular trawl- 
smacks at Hull are specially built for one purpose, and 
all the energies of the fishermen are engaged through- 
out the year in that one object. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that in the matter of trawling, Scarborough 
has been left behind, althougl; her first-class boats 
have continued to increase during the last few years. 
The inshore fisheries along the Northumberland coast 
have been subject to fluctuations' at various times, 
which have led some of the fishermen to bring charges 
of destroying spawn of different kinds against the 
deep-sea trawlers ; but it is due to them to say, that 
when these charges were brought against the deep-sea 
fishermen, no one was aware that the spawn of cod, 
haddock, plaice, and most probably the other kinds of 
flat fish, was not deposited at the bottom, but floated 
freely in the water. That there was not the slightest 
evidence of spawn having been destroyed, probably did 
not affect the belief of those fishermen who expressed 
themselves so strongly on the subject ; but if fish had 
at various places become as scarce as was alleged, it is 
clear some other explanation of the failure must be 


Bongbt. A few years afterwards the scarcity of bait 
was the great cause of complaint, and near the Tyne a 
profitable salmon fishery on the coast led to the her- 
ring fishery being neglected. 

In the neighbourhood of Holy Island and north- 
wards, a class of boats distinct from the cobles is em- 
ployed. They are known as " keel boats," and are 
of very much the same build as the general run of 
Scotch fishing craft. At Berwick - on - Tweed the 
fisheries are essentially the same as at the fishing 
stations in the Firth of Forth, which I shall speak of 

Crabs and lobsters are fished for on all the rocky 
parts of this coast, and, according to the evidence given 
during a recent inquiry there, the supply is not so 
good as formerly. 

( 167 ) 


The sea fisheries on the coasts of Scotland are very 
important, bnt they mainly consist of two kinds — drift 
fishing for herrings in summer, and line fishing for cod, 
ling, haddock, and other fish more or less at other 
times. Besides these, there is seaning (called " traw- 
ling" in Scotland) for herrings and sprats in some 
localities ; a few set-nets are used in others, and there 
are several places in which crabs and lobsters are 
regularly worked for. Beam-trawling is in very little 
favour in Scotland ; and it is only within the last very 
few years that anything has been done with it in deep 
water, and then mostly by English trawlers. 

I have already spoken of the change which has 
largely taken place, and is still going on, in the Scotch 
fishing craft, by the substitution of decked for un- 
decked boats, principally in those of the first class. 
An increase in the size of the boats has been made at 
the same time ; but the alteration in this respect has 
been limited by the general absence of deep-water 
harbours in Scotland, unless specially constructed. 
The fishing harbours on the east coast, where they are 
more particularly needed, are, with two or three ex- 
ceptions, very small, and only suitable for boats which 
will just go into the first class, or for smaller ones. 


The result is, that although the first-class boats in Scot- 
land have increased more than 20 per cent, within the 
four years, 1872-76, their average size in 1875 was 
only 17 tons, and among them were sixty cod-smacks 
belonging to Shetland, and averaging 45 tons each. 
The general Scotch fisheries are in deep water, but 
this is found not far from the land ; and the boats are 
able as a rule to go to sea and return every day. The 
use of ice in these fishing boats is, therefore, un- 
necessary, and, I believe, is never thought of. The 
tendency of the fishermen is to go farther ta sea than 
formerly, as they find the advantages in larger catches. 
Commencing our notice of the Scotch fishery stations 
with the Firth of Forth and its neighbourhood, we 
find several places important from the number of 
fishing boats belonging to them, and the quantity of 
fish landed there. Berwick is^practically a Scotch 
town so far as regards its fisheries ; and although, as a 
Customs district, it appears on the English list, it 
includes Eyemouth, Dunbar, and intermediate villages 
within its limits. The fisheries along this range of 
coast generally, are more varied than is usual in Scottish 
waters. The great herring fishery is carried on from 
July to September, and during this period large quan- 
tities of these fish are landed at Dunbar and North 
Berwick, also from the other side of the Firth, and are 
sent off by rail to the fish market. Newhaven has 
long been know as a thriving fishing station, and its 
boats, for many years the best on the coast, have 
shared in the improvements which happily are becom- 
ing every day more widely adopted, whilst the New- 


haven fishwives, with their picturesque costumes and 
marvellous powers of work and tongue, still find plenty 
of employment in helping their relatives, although 
their labours in the disposal of the fish have been 
much lightened siDce the construction of the coast line 
of railway. Fishing with long lines is extensively 
carried on from this place, and the lines in use are 
of two sizes, those for cod and haddock. The haddock 
lines carry from 800 to 1000 hooks each, on snoods 14 
inches long and 2^ feet apart, and mussels and lug- 
worms are used as bait. The number of men in a 
boat depends on her size, and whether the fishing is 
carried on near or far from the land. The smaller 
boats are used for the haddock fishery, as this is more 
worked at no great distance from the coast. There is 
a considerable trade in smoked haddocks, particularly 
from Eyemouth; and the curing consists in soaking 
the fish in pickle for half an hour, and then hanging 
them for four hours in some hardwood smoke. 

The haddock fishery from Eyemouth was very suc- 
cessful in the early part of 1876. The largest boats 
were used, with seven men in each boat ; and in one 
week in January the boats were six times at sea, and 
landed 20,000 stones of haddocks, which sold at an 
average price of 28. a stone, thus producing in that 
short period no less than 2Q00Z. The haddock 
fishing season lasts here from October to April, and 
the average gain by each boat for the season usually 
ranges fron 4002. to 600i[. I have received this in- 
formation from persons, whose business it is to make 
themselves thoroughly acquainted with the results of 


the fisherie/s, and who can see for themselves what is 
really being done. 

The cod or " great lines " are worked at considerable 
distances from land, and although on precisely the 
same principle as the haddock lines, have fewer and 
larger hooks, which are fastened to snoods 5 feet long 
and 2^ fathoms apart. Small haddocks and herrings 
are nsed as bait, and cod, ling, skate, tnrbot, and 
holibnt are the fish caught by them. The number of 
lines in a boat varies with the number of men, each of 
whom has one ; and the lines are all fastened together 
into a " string " when they are shot. A winter herring 
fishery has also been carried on in the Firth of Forth 
during the last few years, but it is liable to much 
interruption by the prevailing bad weather at that 
season, and varies accordingly. The sprat fishing by 
scans, or ^' trawls," takes place at the upper end of the 
Firth, when the fish come in during the winter. As 
with all fish which only come under notice at a par- 
ticular season, the supply of sprats fluctuates from 
year to year; sometimes being so abundant that they 
can hardly be sold at any price, and at others produc- 
ing large profits to the fishermen from a short supply. 

On the north side of the Firth there are many fishing 
villages, all taking part in the characteristic fisheries of 
the district; and important harbour works have been 
carried on for many years past at Anstruther for the 
special benefit of the fishermen. An annual grant of 
money from Parliament has for some time been applied 
to the construction of this harbour ; but the work has 
progressed slowly, and so much damage has been done 


to the half-finished piers at various times by bad wea- 
ther, that further assistance from the Treasury, in 
order to bring the work to completion, seemed by the 
last Eeport of the Board of Fisheries to have been 
thonght necessary. It is along part of this side of the 
Firth, and a little northwards, that beam trawling in 
oomparatively shallow water is carried on at times; 
but it is on such a small scale, that it does not require 
much notice. 

From the Firth of Forth northward to Frazerburgh, 
the fisheries are as usual by drift net and line; but 
several important stations are met with on this range 
of coast, where the herring fishery is prosecuted with 
considerable success. Montrose, Aberdeen, Peterhead, 
and Frazerburgh may be mentioned as being stations 
for large fisheries, and the last two have in recent 
years taken the principal position on the east coast for 
the extent of their curing operations. Before speaking 
of these places, however, I should mention that this 
part of the east coast has long been famous for its 
haddock fishery, and that at the village of Findon, 
between Stonehaven and Aberdeen, the preparation of 
the celebrated '* Finnan baddies" was first attempted. 
The peculiarity in the fish cured there, and which has 
brought them so much into favour, is that they are 
hung in the smoke of peat fires. By this operation 
the fish acquire a peculiar flavour, which enables them 
to fetch a higher price than the ordinary smoked had- 
docks which are largely prepared at Grimsby and 
many other places both in England and Scotland. 
The name of " Finnan haddie" is so popular, however. 


that it is to be feared that what shonld be Bimply 
called " smoked haddocks," are very often made to do 
dnty in the shops for the superior article. 

The herring fishery from Aberdeen has been very 
much developed in recent times, and I believe to that 
town belongs the credit of first utilizing steam in con- 
nection with the drifl; fishery. In 1871, steam-tugs 
were employed for the purpose of helping the drift 
boats to and from the fishing grounds. There can be 
no doubt that this was a move in the right direction, 
and that the Scotch Fishery Commissioners were quite 
justified in their remarks on the subject when they 
said, in their Eeport for 1871: "In the absence of 
direct application of steam to fishing boats, which it 
may be prognosticated will be introduced before many 
years have passed, the employment of a steam-tug by 
the fleet cannot be too much extended. As a resource 
of modem times, it overcomes the hindrances and diffi- 
culties of a coast where the tides are rapid, and the 
winds variable and often light ; indeed, it is impossible 
too strongly to recommend a force which so easily 
surmounts these and other obstacles, and, by taking 
the boats long distances, opens new fishing grounds." 

There are many difficulties, however, in the way 
of thus using steam, which, I fear, will prevent any 
general adoption of the system, notwithstanding its 
undoubted advantages. In places like Aberdeen, where 
there is always a large amount of shipping, there may 
be little difficulty in obtaining the services of one or 
two steam-tugs when the fishing boats require them. 
But it is very different at the places where the fisheries 


are the only occupation of the people; and this is 
generally the case at the fishing stations. It would be 
necessary to charter steam-tugs for the fishing season, 
and very often to keep them idle ; and the expense of 
providing tugs sufficient to be of material use in towing 
some hundreds of large boats to and from the fishing 
grounds, would necessarily be very great. 

The system has been tried, however, at three or four 
places, but only on a small scale ; and I fear there is 
very little chance of its being carried out to the extent 
it might be, unless the expenses can be materially 

The question of applying steam power directly to 
the fishing boats has also been considered, but that 
would involve even greater expense. The experiment 
has been tried with deep-sea trawlers, and the system 
seemed particularly applicable to that mode of fishing, 
in which a certain regular speed is desirable; but 
although, as I can testify from personal observation, 
the work was done well under steam, and there was 
a great saving of time and labour in various ways, the 
expenses were found to be too heavy to make steam 
trawling anything but a loss. At the present time, 
steam in connection with fishing is profitably employed 
in the carriers which collect the fish from the fleets of 
North Sea trawlers and bring it to market, as I have 
previously mentioned; but in no other way does it 
appear that it can be yet systematically used with 
advantage and profit. 

The importance which has been attained by Peter- 
head and Frazerbnrgh in recent years, both as fishing 

H 2 



and curing stations, may be seen hj the following 
figures taken from the ofiicial returns published by the 
Fishery Board of Scotland. They show the number 
of boats fishing from those stations during the season, 
including those belonging there, and boats from other 
parts of the coast ; the number of fishermen employed 
in them, and of the various persons engaged in curing 
the fish landed there, with the total number of barrels 
of herrings cured in each of the five years 1871-75. 

Betum of Boats, Fishermen and Ourers, with the 
number of Barrels of Herrings cured, at Peterhead and 
Frazerburgh, in the years 1871-75 : 


























































The method of curing the fish at Peterhead and 
Frazerburgh, as well as at the fishing stations all 
round the coast of Scotland, is that known as the 
'< British White Herring Gore," and consists simply in 


packing the herring with a certain proportion of salt 
in well-made barrels, where they remain till they are 
required for consumption. The process, however, needs 
considerable care, and it is considered important that 
the curing should be commenced as soon as possible 
after the fish are caught. No time therefore is lost in 
bringing the fish on shore; and after having been 
measured in a stamped vessel holding 37^ gallons, and 
known as a *' cran," they are at once taken in hand by 
the gutters, who perform their duties with a marvellous 
rapidity, only to be attained by considerable practice. 
This part of the work is almost entirely done by 
women. As soon as the fish have been gutted — and 
for this purpose it is only necessary to make a small 
opening near the head — they are placed in large tubs, 
where they are well "roused" or stirred up with a 
good supply of salt, so that it may be applied to their 
whole surface. The fish are then carefully packed 
with alternate layers of salt in barrels of regulated 
size, and after remaining ten clear days in pickle, the 
barrels are filled up as necessary, and finally closed. 
If, however, they are intended for exportation to a 
warm country, the barrels are repacked in the same 
manner as at first. 

The herrings for curing are separated into four 
classes, consisting of " Full," or fish having large milt 
or roe ; " Maties," or fat fish, and with the roe unde- 
veloped ; " Spent," or shotten, those which have recently 
spawned ; and " Mixed," consisting of unassorted fish. 
The whole process of curing is carried on under the 
supervision of the ofi&cers of the Scotch Fishery Board, 


or, properly speaking, the Board of British White 
Herring Fishery. This mode of cure, now, I believe, 
entirely confined to Scotland, is required by Act of 
Parliament to be carried out under inspection ; and if 
the result of the cure come up to a certain standard 
of excellence, the curers can have, on payment of four- 
pence per barrel, a Government brand placed on each 
barrel so approved. The branding is quite optional on 
the part of the curer; but in either case the curing 
must be open to inspection, and barrels of a particular 
size must be used for packing the fish in. It is one of 
the anomalies of the system, however, that although 
it is absolutely forbidden to use barrels of other than 
a certain size, there is not the slightest restriction as to 
the quality or condition of the fish to be packed in the 
barrel, so long as the Government brand is not desired 
for it. Any refuse fish may be cured and packed, but 
the barrel must be of a certain size. There are four 
distinct brands in common use, denoting the quality 
and description of fish cured; but the Crown Full 
brand, given only to " foil " fish properly cured, is the 
one mainly in request. The advantages and disad- 
vantages of the branding system have been often 
discussed, and I need say nothing more on the well- 
worn subject, except that it appears to greatly facilitate 
the sale of *' white herrings " in the Continental mar- 
kets, where there is always a large demand for fish 
cured in this manner. On the other hand, a Govern- 
ment certificate of the quality of any particular article 
of commerce is opposed to the policy of free trade now 
adopted in this country. Branding is, however, in 



favonr with an iiicreasing majority of the onrers for 
snch fish as they send abroad, bnt only on the east 
coast and at the northern islands ; the cnrers on the 
western side not liking to keep the fish in pickle for 
the nmnber of days required to enable them to obtain 
the brand. The explanation of this is, that the western 
fishery begins earlier than that on the east coast, and 
the curers there are anxious to send their fish to the Con- 
tinental markets as soon as possible. Previous to 1859, 
there were no branding fees, and it was thought that by 
imposing them, the branding system might lose favour, 
and ultimately be done away with ; but the result has 
been otherwise, as will be seen in the following tables. 
Betum of the number of Barrels of White Herrings 
Cured, Exported, and Branded, with the Branding 
Fees received in the years 1869-76 : 




























































































In the Moray Firth, among several stations of more 
or less importance, Buckie deserves notice, no less for 
the industry and enterprise of its fishermen than for 
the peculiarity of the boats used by them. The 
general character of the Scotch fishing boats, espe- 
cially those on the east coast, is to have both ends 
sharp, a good deal of beam, and a moderate rise of 
floor. They used to be entirely open, and were rigged 
with a jib, and fore and main lugs. The change, now 
very general, from undecked to decked boats has 
necessitated an alteration in this rig, the mainmast 
being done away with, and a mizen carried instead, 
the fore-lug being made with a large foot as in the 
luggers belonging to Yarmouth and most other Eng- 
lish fishing ports. The Buckie boats, known as 
" Scafis " or " Sca% boats," are of an entirely different 
build from the other Scotch craft; they have a flat 
floor, a long hollow bow, with the greatest breadth at 
the water-line very far aft; the stem and stempost 
rake a good deal, and they have plenty of beam and 
room on board. In addition to these peculiarities, they 
carried a mizen as well as fore and main lugs, but I 
have never observed them with a jib. They are con- 
sidered fine sea-boats, and the Buckie men are ac- 
customed to go away long distances in tiiem for the 
purpose of line fishing, which is their fiivourite occupa- 
tion, and takes them sometimes to the Orkneys and 
other places far from their homes. The advantages of 
a decked boat are now thoroughly understood by these 
men; and in the last few years they have built all 


their new. first-class boats with decks, at the same time 
doing away with the mainmast, and carrying a larger 
fore-lug. The little artificial harbour at Buckie affords 
shelter to a good number of boats; but, like many 
other harbours on this exposed coast, it is a dangerous 
place to enter at certain times of tide, and often in 
weather when a safe refuge is most to be desired. 

In the Beauly Firth, sprat-fishing is successfully 
carried on, subject to the usual fluctuations in the 
abundance and size of the shoals of fish. 

Wick, nearly at the north-east point of Scotland, is 
the largest curing place after Frazerburgh, and for 
many years occupied the first position as a herring 
station on the east coast. Its situation particularly 
exposes it to the effects of the winter storms, and deep- 
sea fishing in that neighbourhood, whether by net or 
line, is both dangerous and uncertain at that season. It 
is hardly less so sometimes in summer ; for any difii- 
culty there may be in finding shelter under ordinary 
circumstances is greatly increased by the large number 
of fishing boats then working from that station. The 
construction of a deep-water harbour, and easily ac- 
cessible in bad weather, is therefore a matter of the 
greatest importance to the fisheries; but, notwith- 
standing the large sums which have been spent by 
the British Fisheries Society, who have a property in 
the harbour, and further sums advanced by the Public 
Loan Commissioners, hardly a winter passes without 
much damage being done to the piers by the tremendous 
force of the wayes which roll into the bay during 


the terrible north-east gales. In the last winter of 
1876-77, when wrecks strewed our coasts, and the North 
Sea week after week added to the list of disabled and 
missing ships, Wick harbonr has been exposed to a 
succession of bad weather, the effects of which are re- 
ported as Saving been more disastrous and destructive 
to the piers than on any previous occasion. It will be 
an engineering triumph when the harbour is properly 
completed; but it would seem almost impossible to 
construct any piers there that can withstand the forces 
to which sooner or later they must inevitably be ex- 
posed. Great as is the importance of a harbour of 
refuge at Wick for the hundreds of fishing boats which 
at the different seasons make that place their rendez- 
vous, it would be of no little value also to larger 
shipping which risk the passage through the dangerous 
Pentland Firth, and which now have no place of refuge 
in the neighbourhood, when caught in bad weather on 
that coast. 

Besides the regular herring fishery from July to 
September, Wick has also a small winter fishery for 
herrings, frequently interrupted, however, by bad 
weather; and cod, ling, and other line-fish are also 
worked for at the proper seadon. 

I may now say a few words about the Orkneys 
and Shetlands, islands whose fisheries are especially 
subject to the difBculties arising from the combination 
of bad weather, deep water close inshore, and very 
rapid tides ; and yet whose fishermen, particularly the 


United Eingdom. The Orkney fishermen frequently 
work with those on the Scotch coast during the herring 
season, as well as in their own immediate waters, where 
mnch nncertainty attends the drift fishing. Here, how- 
ever, line fishing for cod, ling, and coal fish occnpies a 
good deal of attention ; and haddocks are also caught, ^ 
though the numbers of these fish vary much in different 
years. The Orcadians are not such thorough-going 
fishermen, taking them altogether, as the Shetlanders, 
and the objectionable, but sometimes necessary, diver- 
sion of a good deal of their time to the cultivation of 
the land, prevents their devoting as much attention 
to the fiBheries as they might otherwiBe give. Dried 
cod and ling may be looked upon as the most valuable 
products of the Orkney fisheries, and there is a con- 
siderable demand for these fish in the Spanish market. 
Lobster-fishing has always been a profitable occupation 
in these islands, and it is said to have been the only 
one carried on there previous to 1815. The lobsters 
are now packed alive with seaweed in boxes, and 
forwarded by steamer to Aberdeen, and thence to 
London. Formerly they were carried away in welled 
smacks, and, although longer on their journey, they 
generally reached the market in better condition than 
they do under the present system. Crabs are also 
abundant, but they will not bear packing in the same 
manner as is adopted with lobsters. The larger Orkney 
boats are now decked, and of the same style as those 
on the Scotch coast; but the ski£&, used for line fishing, 
are much smaller and quite open. They have a crew 


of from tveo to four men each, and carry a jib and two 
large lugs, the foot of the latter being extended by 
means of a boom. 

The Shetlandfi form the northern limit of what may 
be called our home fisheries; for, although vessels, 
fitted ont at Shetland, as well as Grimsby smacks, go 
every year to the Faroe Islands, and sometimes to 
Iceland for cod, and bring their captures home, this 
fishery cannot be considered as strictly belonging to 
our own coasts. The great fishery at the Shetlands is, 
however, practically by lines ; and cod, ling, saithe or 
ooalfish, and tusk — quite a northern fish, and resem- 
bling a short-bodied ling — are the species specially 
sought after. There is also some drift fishing for 
herrings, but these fish are very uncertain in their 
appearance on the Shetland coasts, and the dangerous 
character of the sea there, and the frequent bad 
weather, often interfere with regular herring-fish- 
ing. Besides these difficulties, the greater import- 
ance of the line fishing induces most of the fishermen 
to devote as much time as possible to that kind of 

The line fishery is also subject to a good deal of 
fluctuation, especially as regards the cod, which, not 
only at the Shetlands, but also at Faroe and Ice- 
land, become abundant or scarce in successive seasons 
without any apparent cause. Saithe are taken by 
hand lines near the coast, and commonly close to the 
surfitce. God are also taken in the same manner ; but 
most of them are caught at some distance from the 
land, and there are particular banks which have long 


been famous for their general prodnctiveness. Of 
these the Fonla Bank, between Fonla Island and the 
mainland of Zetland, is a favourite resort. I have 
already referred to the cod fisheries at Faroe and Ice- 
land, and, although they are not home fisheries, they 
are worked by our own fishermen, and a considerable 
number of vessels, each carrying about fourteen men, 
are fitted out every year at Lerwick for this particular 
service. The fishing season is from April to September, 
and during that period the smacks make two or three 
trips. Welled vessels are not needed for this work, as 
all the fish are cured; they are split and salted as soon 
as caught, and on the vessel's return to Shetland, the 
fish are washed, and then dried in the open air. They 
undei^o no packing, but are exported in bulk. Many 
years ago there was a Government bounty on all the 
fish thus cured, and then it was the practice to punch 
those of which an account was taken. Fish cured wet 
were put into pickle, and the barrels were branded; 
but all bounties ceased in 1830, and there has been no 
punching or branding since 1850. Now, the quantity 
of cod and ling landed at, cured, and exported from 
the Shetlands and Scotland generally, is only ascer- 
tained approximately by the of&cers of the Scotch 
Board of Fisheries, but the returns prepared by them 
are probably not very far from the truth. I may 
here give an extract from these returns for the last 
ten years, so as to give some idea of the importance 
of these line fisheries in Scotland, the Orkneys and 
Shetlands being included in that part of Great Britain, 
and, until 1869, the Isle of Man also. 



Abstract, showing tHe total quantity of cod, ling, 
saithe, and tusk cnred and exported in the years 
1866-75 : 

Qnaatfty Cnred. 




In Pickle. 













































The average number of fish required to make up a 
hundredweight in the dried state may be roughly 
estimated by the returns for Shetland alone in 1875, 
when there were 3,458,799 fish landed, and these pro- 
duced 111,812 cwts. of dried fish. 

The Shetland smacks are not the property of the 
fishermen, but are fitted out by the curers, the men 
reoeiving half the catch, or its equivalent, after all 
expenses are paid ; they are also provided with bread 
by the owners. At the clo&e of the deep-sea cod 
fishery, these smacks are laid up for the winter, and 
the crews seek some other employment ; but the winter 
days in that northern region are too short, and the 
weather commonly too stormy, for much fishing to be 
done on the coast. Some of the Grimsby cod-smacks, 


as before mentioned, work in the summer on the same 
grounds as the vessels belonging to Shetland, and they 
also land a great proportion of their fish at the Ork- 
neys and Shetlands, where it is bought by the eurers, 
so that the produce of these English vessels is included 
among the fish cured in Scotland. 

Among the places occasionally visited by a few 
English and Shetland smacks in search of cod at the 
beginning of the season, is the very uncertain ground 
at Bockall. This bank lies in the Atlantic, about 
800 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, and is marked 
by a single roughly conical rock about 30 feet high, 
with a smaller one, usually uncovered, at a distance of 
less than a hundred fiEithoms north of it. There is 
from twenty to fifty fathoms water within less than a 
mile around the rocks, and it gradually deepens on all 
sides beyond that distance. The fishery is only carried 
on within the fifty fathoms line, and must, therefore, 
be within a short distance of the rock. The very 
limited extent of ground on which the fish are found, 
the danger of keeping near the rock in bad weather, 
and the di£&culty in finding it again when, as some- 
times happens, the vessels sEre blown away, all combine 
to prevent regular fishing at Bockall ; and there is 
further discouragement in the fact that, except quite at 
the early part of the season, the fishery is not likely 
to be successful, and even then there is a good deal of 
uncertainty about it. The Shetland long-Hue fishery 
for ling and tusk is' worked in the home waters, and is 
very important. It is carried on from open boats 
called <'haaf," or deep-sea boats, which have long been 


&mon8 for their seaworthy qnalities. These are the 
true " Norway yawls," having very much the build and 
character of whale-boats, and they are handled in a 
wonderful manner by the Shetlanders, who show in 
their love for the sea, and by their daring and energy 
in their work on it, that they are still worthy of their 
descent from the Norsemen, of which they are all so 
proud. These skifiGs are about 20 feet on the keel, 
28 feet over all, and with 8 feet beam. They carry 
a single large lug. 

The most important station on the west coast of 
Scotland is Stomoway, in the Outer Hebrides. This 
is the great centre of the herring fishery in the Minch, 
or the sea lying between the outer islands and the 
main coast of Scotland. The fisheries here are of the 
same kinds as those on the northern and eastern 
coasts; but that for herrings is of considerable im- 
portance, not only on account of its extent, but because 
it begins earlier than on the eastern side, and the fish 
cured at Stomoway are always the first in the Conti- 
nental markets. The herring fishing on the Atlantic 
side of the Outer Hebrides is very uncertain at all 
times, but about April the fishery begins both at the 
north and south of these islands, and is carried on in 
the Minch till the middle of July about Stomoway, 
but generally comes to an end in June at the southern 
part of the channel. Curing is done at Stomoway, 
XJist, and Barra, especially at the first-mentioned 
station ; but a considerable quantity of herrings is 
sent fresh, with only a sprinkling of salt over them, to 
Glasgow and Liverpool, special steamers being em- 


ployed almoet daily dnrmg the Heason for their trans- 
port. Host of the oared fish goes to the Continental 

markets, especiaUy to Bnseia. The caring is neces- 
sarily carried on tinder the inspection of the Fishery 


Board, bnt the Govemment brand is entirely dis- 
regarded on the west ooast, and the curers trust to 
their own names for selling the fish. They allege that 
the western fish are more delicate than the others, and 
will not bear the close packing requisite for ensuring 
the proper weight in each barrel if the brand is desired. 
The early market, however, is, without doubt, the great 
object sought ; and the curers will not allow the num- 
ber of days for the fish to be in pickle, before sending 
them away, that is insisted on if the brand is to be 

The general season for long lining, by which the cod, 
ling, and tusk are here exclusively taken, is from 
November to July. God and ling — the latter being 
especially abundant — ^are caught on various parts of 
the coast, and have long been successfully fished ; a 
bank off the Butt of Lewis, and another large one in 
the middle of the Minch, being favourite resorts for 
them. The tusk are chiefly found on the Atlantic 
side of the outer islands. Shore-curing is carried on 
here as at the Shetlands, and the beach, in suitable 
places, may be commoAly seen covered with the drying 
fish during the season. Very little of it goes from 
here to the foreign market, but a good deal is sent to 

There has been a large fishery for lobsters for many 
years at Bemera, and East and West Tarbert for the 
English market, and large quantities of periwinkles 
are collected at the- several islands known generally as 
the Hebrides, and are sent to the same destination. 

I need say but little of the close time which was 


established for herrings in 1860. The persons at 
whose instance the law was made, were not the fisher- 
men, but some of the ourers, who sought to raise the 
price of their fish caught during the regular season, by 
prohibiting the capture of herrings of any description 
at other times ; although the fishermen on many of the 
poorer parts of the west coast were largely dependent 
on them as food, and, to a still more important extent, 
as bait for the line fishery. Thus, directly and in- 
directly, the fishermen suffered, until their sore distress 
became known, and the matter was inquired into. 
Instructions were then given not to enforce the law. 
In 1865 close-time was abolished on part of the coast, 
and shortened on the rest ; and the Sea Fisheries Act, 
1868, entirely did away with it on the whole of the 
west coast, except within the three-mile limit frqm the 
shore between Ardnamurchan Point and the Mull of 
Galloway. The original close-time Act only applied 
to the west coast; and happily there are great diffi- 
culties in enforcing that small portion of it which still 
remains on the Statute Book ; for such local restric- 
tions cannot be juatifled by anything that is known 
of the cause of either the abundance or scarcity of 
herrings in different years. 

The fisheries I have now mentioned are worked, 
more or less, all along the west coast, in some places 
more attention being given to one kind than another. 
Among the islands near the mainland, herring-fishing 
is less successfully prosecuted than farther out, and 
the genisrally poor fishermen do their best to obtain a 
living mainly by line fishing and lobster-catching. 

N 2 


In the Firth of Clyde the fisheries are more varied, 
and of considerable importance. At Gampbelton we 
once more meet with beam trawling ; but it is only in 
shallow water near the shore, after the herring season ; 
and flounders, with a few soles, are the principal fish 
thus caught. The same kind of fishing is worked near 
the mouth of the Clyde. There is also some fishing 
by hand lines and long lines ; and set nets are used in 
some parts of the Firth for catching cod, hake, and 
other kinds of fish. Campbelton, the Eyles of Bute, 
and Lochfyne, were for many years the scene of an 
active struggle between two sets of fishermen, both of 
whom were engaged in catching herrings, but by very 
different methods. The usual mode of drifting for 
herrings, as followed in deep water aU round our 
coasts, had long been the only recognized method is\ 
the localities I have mentioned, as it still is prac- 
tically on other parts of the Scotch coast. But about 
the year 1838, the scan or circle net, known in Scot- 
land as the '* trawl," was introduced as likely to be as 
useful for catching herrings in Scotland, as it is for 
capturing pilchards, sprats, and mackerel in other 
places farther south. It is most effective when used 
near the shore ; and when the fish are in convenient 
localities, a very large number may be enclosed at 
once, and a boatload or more of herrings obtained, after 
an hour or two of work in places where the water is 
not deep enough for drift nets to be employed. It 
might have been supposed that the drift fishers and 
the '* trawlers " in Lochfyne would be able to work in 
their distinct localities without difiiculty; but the 


drifl; men could recognize only their own mode of 
fishing as the right one, and they brought charges 
against the '' trawlers " of destroying young fish, 
frightening the shoals away, preventing the passage 
of the fish to the inner parts of the lochs, and finally 
they said that the herrings canght by the ''trawl" 
were often so bruised and knocked abont, that they 
were not fit to onre. The one important objection 
' of the drift fishers to the system of " trawling '' or 
seaning, was elicited in the course of subsequent 
Government inquiries into the dispute, and this was 
that the large catches of herrings sometimes made by 
the '^ trawl " lowered the market price of the drift 
fish. The curers also joined in the dispute, because 
the trawl fish were mostly sold in the fresh-market, 
and consequently cured fish were in less demand. In 
1851, an Act was passed to put a stop to '' trawling " 
for herrings on the coast of Scotland, and more strin- 
gent measures were brought to bear on the trawl 
fishermen in 1860 and 1861, so as to effectually sup- 
press their operations. Serious disturbances and colli- 
sions had taken place between the two sets of fisher- 
men, and a gunboat became necessary in Lochfyne to 
ensure the law being carried out. So strong a feeling 
existed, however, among a large body of the fishermen 
and others that the complaints against "trawling" 
were unjust, and the prohibition injurious to the inte- 
rests of the public as well as to the fishermen imme- 
diately affected by it, that the subject was formally 
investigated by the Government, as previously men- 
tioned ; a special Boyal Commission being appointed 


for the pnrpofie in 1862, and the Boyal Sea Fisheries 
Commission also going into the question in 1864, in 
the course of their general inquiry into the state of 
all our sea fisheries. Both Commissions were most 
decided in condemning the prohibition of '^ trawling " 
for herrings ; and it was shown by the comparison of 
several series of years, that the fluctuations in the 
Lochfyne herring fishery had been as great before 
trawling was introduced as at any subsequent period. 
By Acts of 1867 and 1868, trawling was again per- 
mitted, and continues at the present time. 

The three important stations in Lochfyne are In- 
verary, four miles from its northern extremity, Ardris- 
haig, about eighteen miles south of it, and Tarbert, ten 
miles lower down, and sis or seven miles from the en- 
trance to the loch. The total length of Lochfyne is 
therefore nearly forty miles. Just above Ardrishaig 
the loch suddenly narrows, and is further contracted at 
this part by Otter Point, which projects westward for 
some distance across, and forms the lower boundary of 
what is called the Upper Loch. This is from one to 
two miles wide, and the lower loch varies from four 
to five in width. There is deep water through the 
entire length, although the depth is irregular, ranging 
from twenty fathoms in some parts, to as much as one 
hundred fathoms near the entrance. In some years the 
herrings go up the loch to its extremity, in others the 
fishing is almost confined to the neighbourhood of 
Tarbert. For the last few years the fish have not 
gone very far up, although good fisheries have been 
made near the mouth, both by '* trawl " and drift net. 


Almost every kind of explanation of the general scar- 
city of fish in the upper parts of the loch has been 
suggested, with very little evidence to support it ; and 
since '^ trawling" has been again permitted, that system 
of fishing has been once more charged with keeping 
the herrings away. In 1874, three Scotch gentlemen 
of position, and who were likely to command the con- 
fidence of the fishermen, formed themselves into a 
private committee to inquire into the cause of the 
failure of the Lochfyne fishery : and in the following 
year they submitted a Beport, with certain recom- 
mendations, to the Lord Advocate of Scotland. With 
reference to trawling keeping the fish out of the loch, 
a question to which the Committee appear to have 
given considerable attention, they say: — ''The fact 
cannot be explained away, that the fish seem to be 
at present disinclined to enter other narrow waters 
where trawling is unknown." I need hardly say any- 
thing about the general result of their inquiry, as 
it has been shown that the Committee had not made 
themselves sufficiently acquainted with the entire sub- 
ject for their recommendations to be of any practical 
value ; but the feust mentioned by them, of the herrings 
seeming at present disinclined to enter other narrow 
lochs where there has been no '' trawling," should have 
some e£fect in silencing the discontented drift-fishermen 
of Lochfyne. 

On the coast south of the Firth of Clyde, good 
fishing for both cod and turbot is to be had on a large 
bank off Ballantrae, well known as a resort for herrings 
at the spawning time. The larger fish are probably 


attracted to the locality by the herrings, and are 
caught by set-nets anchored at the bottom. 

Long lining is also carried on from here, and this 
fishery is worked at eight or ten miles from the 
land. At Dnunore remunerative employment has 
been found for the fishermen, in dredging the several 
valuable beds of oysters which have been discovered 
from time to time in the neighbourhood, and which 
attract a good many English and Scotch boats to the 
locality. Portpatrick has also come into notice in 
the last few years, from the attention there given to the 
long-line fishery for cod during the winter months. 
The fish are taken in deep water and among rapid 
tides, and are considered of finer quality than from 
any other station in the district. The railway to this 
port has no doubt had much to do with the develop- 
ment of this fishery. The only other fishing of any 
particular importance on this part of the Scotch coast 
is the beam trawling, which since 1870 has been carried 
on with considerable success on a stretch of twenty or 
twenty-five miles between Lochryan and Drumore. The 
trawling season lasts only through the months of Feb- 
ruary, March, and April, and successful fishing depends 
very much on the state of the weather. The trawl- 
smacks belong chiefly to Whitehaven and Liverpool, 
and their number has varied from fourteen to twenty- 
two in the season. Large hauls of fish have been 
taken, and turbot, holibut, brill, soles, plaice, flounders, 
cod and whiting, form the marketable produce of this 
fishery. It seems to be as characteristic of this part 
of the west coast of Scotland as it is of the corresponding 


coast of England and Wales, that what are commonly 
understood as trawl fish, are only found on certain 
grounds during a short period of the year. This will 
probably prevent the Scotch fishermen giving much 
attention to this method of fishing — one which requires 
considerable outlay and skill for its successful working, 
and against which there has been, and still is, a decided 
prejudice amongst them, although as a class the Scotch 
fishermen are conspicuous for their industry and enter- 

I am glad to be able to add, that every year shows 
a marked improvement in their habits of sobriety gene- 
rally around the coast ; and whatever tendency there 
may have been to indulge whilst on shore, it has not 
interfered with hard work at sea, or profitable attention 
to the regular fisheries, when the seasons for them have 
come round. 

In 1867, the total value of fishing boats, nets and 
lines in Scotland was estimated at 947,1092. In 1875 
it had increased to 1,092,275Z. 

( 186 ) 


Up to 1868, when the Sea Fisheries Act was passed, 
the fisheries of the Isle of Man came under the notice 
of the Fishery Board of Scotland, and the annual 
statistics published by the Board included some account 
of what had been done by the Manxmen. This has 
come to an end, and the only official information now 
given to the public about the fisheries of the island, is 
that relating to the number of boats and men engaged 
in them. 

The most important fishery on that coast is for 
herrings, and Castletown, Port St. Mary, Port Erin 
and Peel are the stations immediately connected with 
it. It is carried on entirely with drift nets, and usually 
commences early in June. The fish are at first mostly 
taken at a little north of Peel, on the western side of 
the island, and thence southwards to the Calf of Man 
as the season advances. It is continued along this 
part of the coast and a little south of the Calf until 
the end of September, when the fish are believed to 
spawn on the rough ground in that neighbourhood. 
The great herring fishery is therefore confined to the 
southern half of the western side of the island. In 
October, however, herrings are found in Douglas Bay, 
where there is good reason to believe they spawn. 


These fish are described as being of a different class 
from those caught off the Calf, and are supposed by 
the fishermen to come from the north-east. As soon 
as the drift season has come to an end at the Isle of 
Man, the Manx boats proceed to the Irish coast, and 
take part in the herring fishery there ill November 
and December. 

There is very little cnring done in the island, almost 
all the herrings caught on that coast being sent with 
just a sprinkling of salt oyer them to Liverpool, or 
some port in Wales. A few trawlers work off Douglas, 
and some mackerel are taken by line and sean in 
Douglas Bay; but the Manxmen regularly visit the 
south of Ireland during the mackerel season there, and 
by steady attention to the fishery, generally manage to 
earn a good deal of money. When not engaged with 
either the herrings or mackerel, the fishermen occupy 
themselves with the long lines, and catch a large 
number of cod, either near the land or far out at sea, 
according to the season. 

The Manx boats for deep-sea work are fine craft, 
from 40 to 50 feet in length, half-decked, but can be 
entirely covered in when necessary. They are dandy- 
rigged, and sail well. 

( 188 ) 


The history of the Irish Sea Fisheries for the last 
thirty years offers a painful contrast to what we know 
of the English and Scotch fisheries within the same 
period ; for it is a record of almost continuous decline 
in the numher of native fishing boats, and of the men 
and boys who have any claim to be counted as fisher- 
men — little as that is in the majority of cases. And 
yet this decline is due to no scarcity of fish on what 
have long been recognized as the most productive 
parts of the Irish coast — the eastern side of the island, 
where the herring fishery is regular and important; 
and the southern coast, where mackerel abound in 
their proper season. We learn from the Beports of the 
Inspectors of Irish Fisheries something of what is done 
there, and who are the persons who carry on the work 
and obtain the reward. In 1875, the highest number 
of fishing boats working in one day from Howth, the 
most important herring fishing station, was 683. Of 
these there were 219 Cornish, 197 Irish, 142 Scotch, and 
125 Manx boats. The Irish boats were then only 29 per 
cent, of the total number at work in purely Irish waters. 
At Ardglass, the only other station of importance, and 
in a more northerly situation, the largest average 
number in any one week of the fishery was 287. These 



comprised 20 Cornish, 40 Irish, 52 Manx, and 175 
Scotch boats. At this station the Irish boats formed 
only 14 per cent, of those engaged in the fishery. In 
the Einsale mackerel fishery also, the Irish boats are 
only a small proportion of the total number of craft 
which come from various parts to share in the spoil. 

I take the following statistics from the last Eeport 
of the Inspectors, to show how great has been the 
decline in the number of Irish sea-fishing boats and 

Number of Fishing Boats and Fishermen employed 
in the Coast Fisheries from 1846 to 1875, inclusive : 



























































} 9,099 


























No returns are given for the years 1847 and 1869, 
but those for the other years are approximately correct. 
There is great difficulty, however, in procuring exact 
particulars, although the present Inspectors take espe- 
cial pains in their instructions to the Coastguard to 
secure as much accuracy as possible. 


The boats with their crews are divided by them into 
three classes independently of tonnage, and this plan 
enables us in some measure to understand who are in- 
cluded under the head of Fishermen. 

In 1875, the number of craft solely engaged in 
fishing was 1341, and crews 6241 ; mostly engaged in 
fishing — boats 602, crews 1870; only partially engaged 
in fishing — boats 8976, crews 14,997; total boats 
5919, total crews 23,108* To persons who are not 
familiar with the habits of many of the coast popula- 
tion in Ireland, it will probably cause some surprise to 
hear, on the authority of the Inspectors, that the boats 
and men in the third division, or those only partially 
engaged in fishing, are not employed in that occupation 
on an average for more than one month in the year. 
The boats in this division form two-thirds, and the 
men nearly that proportion, of the total number of 
sea-fishing boats and fishermen in Ireland. 

The duty of collecting the information relating to 
the number of Irish boats and fishermen devolves on 
the Coastguard ; b^t there are extensive lines of coast 
in some of the wilder and less populated districts, 
which are not often visited by these officers ; and under 
these circumstances, it is often impossible to depend on 
the accuracy of the returns of either boats or men. 
The returns furnished also by the Customs are in some 
cases obviously incorrect, and I cannot attempt to 
explain how, in 1875, they give 367 more boats, and 
3739 more fishermen than appear in the undoubtedly 
more carefully prepared returns furnished by the In- 
spectors. As the statistics of fishing boats, published 


annually by the Board of Trade, are solely derived 
from information supplied by the Customs all round 
the coast of the United Kingdom, there is reason to 
believe that not much dependence can be placed on 
the general system of registration now adopted under 
the Sea Fisheries Act, 1868. It is almost impossible to 
obtain accuracy in many parts of Ireland and Scotland, 
and it is very doubtful whether even the English 
returns are entirely trustworthy. 

The Irish fisheries have been subject to fluctuations 
at various times, so far as the number of boats and men 
engaged in them is concerned ; but the great decline 
in comparatively recent years dates from the period of 
the famine ; and those who have had a long acquaint- 
ance with the condition of the west coast fishermen, 
believe their present depressed state is entirely the 
result of that disastrous time. But it may be asked, if 
there has been no recovery after thirty years, but, on 
the contrary, an almost continuous decline in the 
number of fishermen up to the last year, what hopes 
are there of ever seeing the fishing population again in 
a thriving condition? Poverty is but an imperfect 
excuse for the present state of things. Local assistance 
has been given time after time with only a temporary 
improvement. Emigration to America and elsewhere 
has attracted thousands from their native shores ; and 
it can hardly be a matter of regret, for most of those 
who went away have worked with an industry in 
other countries, of which there was little appearance 
when they were at home. The great decline in the 
fisheries is no doubt mainly due to the great tide of 


emigratioii which has long been setting westward. 
But the majority of those who left the west coast, and 
of those who still remain there, had never much claim 
to the title of fishermen, for they belonged to the class 
who only fish occasionally, when seaweed-cutting, 
fjEtrming, and other occupations fail them. 

On the east coast there is a more pleasing picture. 
The example set by Cornish, Scotch, and Manx fisher- 
men appears to be having some effect on those in that 
part of Ireland. Boats are improving, the men are 
more industrious than formerly, and their numbers are 
increasing there to some extent ; but there is still 
great room for improvement, and there must assuredly 
be sufficient inducement for them to work at the 
fisheries, when it pays hundreds of fishermen from 
other parts to come long distances for the sake of the 
profits to be made in the Irish Channel. It is too 
early yet tb judge of the working of the Irish Eepro- 
ductive Loan Fund recently established under a Par- 
liamentary grant, for the purpose of assisting needy 
fishermen with loans to be expended on fishing gear ; 
but as might have been expected, the money applied 
for has been far iii excess of what can be provided. 
About 8000Z. was available, and the total amount 
asked for exceeded 40,000Z. The Inspectors express 
some surprise that the applications were not for a con- 
siderably larger sum. There is much difference of 
opinion as to the probability of these loans doing any 
real good to the fishermen ; but as the experiment is 
now being fairly tried, we must wait and hope for a 
satisfactory result. I should have been glad, how- 


eyer, if the Irish people generally had shown some 
disposition to help their own fishermen in the manner 
now being done by Parliament, but they have only 
olamoared for Goyemment assistance. 

The following paragraph appears in the Inspectors' 
Report for 1874 : 

" We regret that the generous o£fer made by Mr. 
Benjamin Whitworth, member for Eolkenny, to con- 
tribute 25002. for the benefit of the fishermen, pro- 
vided 7500Z. was subscribed by the rest of Ireland, so 
as to raise a fond of 10,0002., has not met with a 
single response, so that his intended liberality remains 
nnavailed o£" 

I will now give a short sketch of such of the Irish 
fisheries as appear to deserve notice. The nfost im- 
portant ones are on the eastern and southern coasts, 
and we may commence with those from Dublin Bay. 
Dublin is the head-quarters of the deep-sea trawlers, 
and possesses a fleet of about fifty smacks, ranging 
from 30 to 50 tons, N.M., and usually working from 
that station. Deep-sea trawlers were first used from 
Dublin in 1818, some Brixham smacks having been 
bought for that purpose. Brixham men also came 
over, and in the course of time more vessels were 
added to the fleet, as the fishing grounds became better 
known, and the profitable character of the fishing was 
established. The trawlers work all the year round 
when they can get hands, but in the summer months, 
the generally light weather is not favourable for trawl- 
ing, and the men find more profitable occupation in the 
herring fishery and on board the numerous yachts, 



where their servicee are in great request. Although 
trawling has been carried on for many years along this 
part of the coast, the grounds which have been, and 
continue to be, systematically worked by the Dublin 
smacks are not very extensive. They lie for the most 
part within a triangular space between Dublin and 
Dundrum bays and the Isle of Man. The fishing 
grounds consist of an irregular series of patches dif- 
fering in shape and extent, and these are worked more 
or less successfully according to the season ; the inner 
grounds — the neighbourhood of the Eish Bank, Skerries 
Bay, and the Mountain Foot ground — ^being fished 
during the colder months. The Isle of Man ground, 
abounding in soles, and lying in deep water, is usually 
worked from March to July. In January many of the 
smacks go to the coast of Waterford and fish on what is 
called the Saltee ground, a very productive patch 
about south-west from the Saltee light-ship. There 
are bye-laws in force on parts of the coast prohibiting 
trawling in certain bays, but these regulations appear 
to have been made more with the idea of satisfying the 
complaints of the line fishermen, than from any belief 
* that the trawlers did any harm. 

Line fishing is general along the eastern coast, and 
long-lining is largely carried on in Dublin Bay and 
northwards. The fishermen at Bush have devoted 
themselves principally to that kind of work, by which 
they catch cod, ling, haddock, and conger, not only 
in their own neighbourhood, but also during their 
occasional visits to the western and southern parts of 
the island. The disappearance of the haddock from 


the Ticinity of Dublin Bay a few years ago caused a 
great outcry against the trawlers, to whose operations 
it was attributed ; but the recent return of this fish to 
its old grounds, notwithstanding the fact that trawlers 
had increased in the interval, has tended to the 
removal of this misapprehension. As the spawn of 
the haddock is not deposited on the ground, but has 
been proved to float during the development of the 
young fish, it is difficult to understand how trawling 
could interfere with the supply of these fish except by 
catching them, and that is simply what the line fisher- 
men themselves want to do. On the coast of Scotland 
there have been the same fluctuations in the numbers 
of haddocks, and they will undoubtedly again occur. 

The most important and profitable fishing to the 
general body of fishermen on this part of the coast is 
that for herrings, and it attracts, as I have previously 
mentioned, a large number of boats from Cornwall, 
Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The two great stations 
for this fishery are Howth, at the northern point of 
Dublin Bay, and Ardglass, a little south of Strangford, 
and opposite the Isle of Man. The season commences 
at some time in June, but the boats are not in full 
work till July. From that time till the end of Sep- 
tember, or sometimes &r into October, drift fishing is 
followed up in some part of the Irish Sea, the boats 
gradually decreasing as the season advances, and many 
of the Cornish boats leaving in August, so as to take 
part in the pilchard-fishing on their own coast. 

A little curing is done at Howth, but a large propor- 
tion of the herrings caught on the east coast is shipped 

o 2 


fresh by steamers to English and Scotch ports. The 
same may be said of the produce of the other Irish 
fisheries — line, drifb, and trawl fi^; for a better 
market can be obtained on the English side of the 
Irish Channel, than at Dublin and the inland towns. 

South of Dublin, the oyster fishery near Arklow 
employs a large nmnber of men and boats. The banks 
are in 10 or 12 fathoms water, and extend southwards 
almost to Wexford. It is said that if the fishermen 
had larger boats, much more might be done than at 
present in the line fishing, and in working oyster beds 
at a greater distance from land. A harbour, accessible 
at all times of tide, is also much needed on this part of 
the coast. The herring fishery at Wexford is usually 
late in the year, but it is only on a small scale. The 
boats, or *' cots," there used for the drift fishing are of 
a peculiar build, and deserve a short notice. They 
are sharp at both ends, and are entirely flat-bottomed 
with the exception of a small bit of keel at the bow 
and stern, and a false keel or bilge piece extending 
some distance on each side, between the floor and the 
planking. They are about 30 feet over all, and with 
7 or 8 feet beam. A centre-board with a depth of 5 
feet below the floor is lowered, when the boat, is on 
a win4 ; and the sails consist of three sprit-sails and a 
jib. These boats are well suited for working their way 
over the shoals inside and outside Wexford EEarbour. 

On the south coast we find a station of some little 
importance at Waterford Harbour. There is a con- 
siderable extent of fishing ground within the harbour 
itself, and good trawling is to be had outside on the 


Saltee grotmd, and fiuther ont, on the Nymph Bank. 
The latter has been for man; years famous for the 

variefy and abimdanoe of its fish, but its distance from 
the land, 80 or 40 miles, has interfered with systematio 
fishing OD it, so much time being lost in going to 


and retnming from the ground. The Hull system of 
packing the fish in ice as soon as canght, seems 
pecnliarlj suited to this case; and at one time a 
steamer was purchased to be used as a carrier ; but 
unfortnnately she was at first employed in trawling in 
the open part of Waterford Harbour, and this was 
more than the small-boat fishermen could put up with. 
It was at a time when the native feeling was very 
strong against the large trawlers, and the appearance 
of a steam trawler gave rise to opposition of such a 
violent character, that it became necessary to send her 
away. Dunmore, on the west side of the entrance to 
the harbour, is the trawling station ; and this kind of 
fishing in deep water continues to be successfully 
carried on. A curious bye-law is in force in Water- 
ford Harbour, by which trawlers exceeding 10 tons are 
excluded from certain parts of it. A short time ago 
the limit was 5 tons, but it has been recently enlarged. 
The effect of this bye-law is, that only those boats 
which can work in shoal water, where the young fish 
most abound, are allowed to do so ; the privilege of 
destroying the small fry is limited to those who can 
do it most effectually ! The professed object of this 
regulation was to prevent the large trawlers from 
catching the young fish ; its real object was to quiet the 
turbulent spirit of the small fishermen by keeping the 
large trawlers out of their way. There is a good deal 
of line fishing here also, and scans are used for 
mackerel and sprats when the fish come within teach. 

Between Waterford and Einsale, various modes of 
fishing are practised, but none requiring any special 


notice. Dungarvan was once an important place, bat 
its fisheries are now much reduced, and nombers of 
the fishermen haye emigrated. Trammels are used at 
Ring for catching hake, and there is a little inshore 
trawling and hand-lining. 

In Balljoottin Bay and Cork Harbour and its neigh- 
bourhood, the fisheries are also yaried, but not yery 
eztensiye, although a good many fish are taken at 

Einsale was at one time famous for its line fishery, 
and the Einsale hookers were celebrated as sea-going 
fishing boats. The town has in recent years come 
into notice as a great station for the mackerel fishery, 
and at this time is the resort of boats from other parts 
of Ireland, as well as from Scotland, Oomwall, and 
the Isle of Man. The fishing, which is by drift nets, 
begins early in March, and is carried on till about the 
end of June; and, as is the case with the herring 
fishery on the east coast, the stranger boats capture the 
larger proportion of the fish. Of late years many 
French boats haye taken part in this fishery, but their 
captures are cured on board and taken away. A great 
step has been made during the last few years in the 
deyelopment of the mackerel fishery, by the establish- 
ment of a line of steamers, in addition to the sailing 
yessels, for the transport to England through Milford 
of the fish landed at Einsale. In 1875 there were 
seyen steamers constantly engaged in this work, and 
occasionally three additional ones, besides nineteen 
sloops. Seyeral other yessels were employed as hulks 
for holding the ice, boxes, &c., for packing ; and the 


quantity of ice imported for the purpose of packing the 
fish in was 3157 tons. The nubckerel are placed with 
layers of broken ice in boxes holding a " hundred " of 
fish each, which, in the case of mackerel, is equal to six 
score, or 120. I find from the Inspectors' Betums, 
that in 1875 there were 121,533 boxes of fish sold at 
Einsale as the produce of the fishery for that year ; 
the prices per " hundred " ranging from 3Z. 10«. at the 
beginning of the fishery to 1%, 2^. at the close ; the 
total amount realized by the various fishermen who 
landed their fish at Einsale being 73,523Z. Pilchards 
are abundant every year along the south coast of Ire- 
land ; but notwithstanding the exertions made by the 
Inspectors and others to establish a fishery for them, 
little has been done by the fishermen to second their 
good intentions, and I fear it will be long before 
advantage is taken of the profitable opportunities year 
aflier year thrown in their way. 

Bantry and Dingle bays are both good fishing 
grounds, and much profitable work has been done in 
the last-mentioned locality. Trawling and line fishing 
have been especially successful there. At Dingle par- 
ticularly, and on part of the coast northwards, a 
remarkable kind of fishing boat is in common use. 
This is the ^^Ourragh," or canvas canoe. The con- 
struction of these curraghs is very simple, confiisting 
of a light wooden frame for the top sides, strengthened 
by a keelson curved slightly upwards at each end to 
form the stem and stempost. The ribs are pieces of 
cask hoop, cut to such a length as to give the requisite 
curve to the bottom, and outside these are nailed long 


narrow battens to serve as flooring. Over this skeleton 
pieces of tarred canvas are naQed, each strip about two 
feet wide, and extending round the bottom from one 
gunwale to the other. Thwarts are fixed in the nsual 
manner, and the canoe is propelled by three or fonr 
pairs of light oars. These cnrraghs float like bubbles 
on the water when empty, but with four men in them, 
and each using a pair of oars, they are easily managed, 
and will go through a great deal of bad weather. They 
are about 20 feet long and 4 feet wide, and are used 
for the line fishing. 

On the west coast of Ireland we come among a class 
of men, a large proportion of whom are in a state of 
extreme poverty, and whose lives are spent in various 
occupations, such as &rming, seaweed cutting, &c., 
besides the occasional one of fishing. In very many 
cases, when the fish appear on the coast, these men 
have few means of catching them, and when fortune 
favours the fishermen, there is frequently no way of 
disposing of their catch to advantage. It seems almost 
hopeless to expect much development of the fisheries 
on this coast, although at times fish are abundant 
there. It is from this part that emigration has done 
so much to thin the population; but now that the 
American labour market has been over supplied, and 
many of the Irish are returning to their homes, it is 
difficult to say what will be the effect on those who 
have had little heart or inclination for anything but to 
follow their friends abroad. 

Oalway has been conspicuous for many years for the 
greater success of its fisheries. The lawless habits of 


the Oladdagh men — the fishing community of Gralway 
— have done much, howeyer, to cnrtail the work that 
might have been done in the bay; bnt the trawlers 
appear at last to have obtained a footing there, and 
there can be no donbt that the fisheries might be much 
improved, if peaceful work could be ensured. The 
herring fishery is that which brings most general profit, 
for the time it lasts, but the line fishery for cod, ling, 
and whiting is of old standing, and the (Mway hookers 
have long been famous among Irish fishing boats. On 
the coast northwards from Galway, line, drift, and 
scan fishing are carried on more or less, but the 
fisheries are very uncertain, and there has been a com- 
plete scourge of dogfish in Donegal Bay and on parts 
of the west coast during the last year or two, which 
has almost ruined the hopes of the fishermen. 

There is little to be said of the north and north-east 
coasts ; line fishing is perhaps most general, and there 
is some small trawling in the loughs, but the fisheries 
are unimportant till we come to those that I have 
already noticed on the east coast of the island. 


Abbbdbbn herring fishery, 162 

, steam-tngs at, 162 

Action of the trawl, 87 

Act relating to Gomish pilchard 

' fishery, 109 

Advantages of storing live cod, 


of decked boats, 168 

Anstrather, harbour works at, 


Approach to land of spawning 

and fat herrings, 48 
, after spawning, of 

mackerel, 68 
—^ of pilchards after 

spawning, 109 
Arbitrary classification of boats, 

Ardglass, herring fishery at, 



Bag-nbts for shrimps, 107 

for catching sprats, 97 

Bait for cod, 78 

Ballantrae, spawning ground of 

herrings, 188 
Ballycottin Bay fisheries, 199 
Bantry Bay, fisheries in, 200 
Barking supposed to have been 

the first to begin deep-sea 

trawling, 119 

Barking trawling station, 21, 119 

i trawl-head, 26 

Barnstaple Bay, fishery at, 108 
Beam-trawl, construction of, 22 
Beam -trawling little used in 

Scotland, 157 
Berwick fisheries, 158 
Bideford, fishing at, 108 
BilliDgsgate, enlargement of, 8 

, supply of fish at, 129 

Bloaters, curing of, 142 
Blowsers, 111 
Boats for shrimping, 105 
Branding fees, 167 

system, advantages of, 166 

^ objections to, 166 

in 1859-75, 167 

Brighton, fisheries at, 126 

drift fishing, 125 

hog-boats, 125 

Bridgewater Bay, 107 

« British White Herring Cure," 

Brixham trawling station, 21, 

44. 119 

, oldest established, 

45. 120 

, customs of trawlers at, 

fishing ground long worked 

over, 121 
— — fishermen in the time of 

Elizabeth, 120 
at Bamsgate, 127 



Brixham, number of trawl-boatB, 

Binaeks, cost of, 121 

, small extent of trawling- 

gronnds, 121 

supposed originator of deep- 
sea trawling, 119 

, yarions fish caught at, 124 

Buckie, boats at, or <<ScafiB," 

^^Buckies," or whelks, as bait» 

Bulter (see Long-line) 

Buoy or " dan ** to long-line, 73 

Buoys or ** bowls " to drift-net, 

Bumham shrimp fishery, 107 


Gabnabton trawling-station, 22 
Carriers, Mr. Hewett's, 145 
Chesil Beach, sean-fishing at, 92 
Oladdagh men, 202 
Classification of boats, mislead- 
ing, 14 
Close-time of herrings. Act, 178 
Clovelly, fishing at, 108 
Coalfiah, spawning of, 47 

, north-east coast, 155 

"Coble "boats, 152 
Cod-fishing by hand-lines, 80 

by long-lines, 74, 80, 160, 

— — , fcait used in, 72, 78 

by trammel-nets, 102 

at Faroe and Iceland, 173 

at Great Grimsby, 147 

— at Harwich, 185 
, season for, 173 

Cod-fishing smacks on the Nor- 
folk Coast, 80 

Cod-chests used at Grimsby, 82, 

, killing fish taken ftom, 


Cod, dried, 171. 173, 174, 178 

, spawning of^ 47, 155 

Cork, fisheries at, 199 

Cornish fisheries, 108 

Costermongers at Billingsgate, 

•cCots," Irish herring-boats, 196 

Crabs caught in Scotland by 
trammel-netfl^ 102 

Crab fishery on Norfolk coast, 

on Northumberland 

coast, 156 

at Start Bay, 119 

— on Yorkshire coast, 


Cromer crab fishery, 146 

Curing pilchards, process de- 
scribed, 112 

'^Curragh," or canvas canoe, 


Dandt-uke fishing, 85 

, origin of name, 87 

'^Darwen salmon," or dogfish, 

Depth of water for trawling, 

Difficulty of obtaining fish on 

the coast, 5 
Dingle trawling station, 22 

boats, peculiar, 200 

line-fishing, 200 



Dogfish, injtirieB to lines by, 79, | 

Dogger Bank fishery, 185 
Donegal Bay, dogfish at, 202 
DoTer, tmwUng station, 21 
Drift-fishing boats, rig of, 57, 


, Cornish, 14 

, Scottish, 14 

^— , Yarmouth, 14, 58 

at Brighton, 125 

at Hastings, 125 

at Kinsale, 199 

at Lowestoft, 187 

Drift-net fishing, 49, 59, 106, 

, oommencement of, 

unknown, 49 

y ot •* driving," 53 

— , probable antiquity of. 


, season for, 63 

, usually at night, 51, 57 

for sprats, 70 

Drift-nets, explanation of the 

name, 49 

, action of, 59 

, ** deepings," 55 

, description of, 53 

, how mounted, 54 

, how the fish are caught 

by, 50 

^ materials used for, 55 

, "train, fleet, or drift of 

nets," 55, 61 
Drumore oyster fishery, 184 
" Dry-bottomed " vessels, 77 
Dublin trawling station, 22, 120, 

Dunbar, herring fishery at, 158 

Dungarvan, dedine of fisheries 

at, 199 
Dutch auction, trawl-fish sold 

by, 122 


Eels, trim-net for catching, 97 
Emigration of Irish fishermen, 

English fineries, 103 
Eyemouth, haddock fishery at, 



Faboe cod-fishery, 173 
Ferry-boats at Yarmouth, 140 
" Finnan haddie," 161 
Firth of Clyde fisheries, 180 

of Forth fisheries, 158. 160 

Fish carried by rail from Har- 
wich, 136 

caught by trawling, 37 

^ French, 123 

, increasing supply of, 107 

, sale of, by telegraph, 7, 122 

, treatment of, after capture, 9 

spawn not taken in the 

trawl, 39 

supposed to come inshore 

in order to spawn, 48 

Fisheries, causes of development 
of, 12 

, Cornish, 108 

, English, 103 

, Irish, 188 

, Manx, 186 

, Scotch, 157 

, Welsh, 106 

Fishing, principal methods of, 


p 2 



Fishing trade, recent changes in 

the, 4, 6 
Fishing-boats, classes of^ 18, 19 

^ cost of, 15 

, Irish, 13 

, increase of number, 15 

, increase of size of, 13, 15 

, table of tonnage of, 18 

Fleetwood trawling station, 21 
Flounders, trim-net for catching, 

Fluctuations of coast fisheries, 3 
Frazerburgh, herring fishery at, 

Fronde's mention of Brixham 
trawlers in the time of Eliza- 
beth, 120 


Galway hookers, 202 

trawling station, 22 

Great Silver Pit trawling 

ground, 43, 44 
Grimsby trawling station, 21, 147 

cod-chests, 82 

, docks for smacks at, 149 

, number of boats, 148 

, statistics of fish at, 149 

Ground-fish, 37 

rope, 27, 38 

scan, convenient for ama- 
teurs, 92 
suitable for trawHng, 38 


Haddock curing, 159 

fishery, 159 

season, 159 

spawning of, 47, 155 

Hake caught by trammel-netS: 

, fishing for, 40, 199 

, spawning of, 47 

Hand-line, description of, 80 

fishing for cod, 81 

Harwich fishery, rise and decline 
of the, 134,135 

cod-chests, 136 

, number of smacks, 134, 

Hauling-in drift-nets, 60 

long-lines, 74 

the trawl, 40 

Hebrides fisheries, 176 
Herring boats, cost of, 115 

-fishery at Brixham, 124 

Isle of Man, 186 

Irish coast, 195 

Lowestoft, 137 

in Scotland, fluctua- 
tions of, 3 
, seasons for, at Lowes- 

toft, 138 

in the Channel* 


on the English 

on the Irish 

on the Scotch 
coast, 64, 65, 66, 158 

at Stomoway, 

coast, 64, 65 
coast, 67 



at Yarmouth, 

at Wick, 170 

Herrings, close-time Act, 178 

bad effects of, 




Herrings, close-time Act, partial 

repeal of, 179 

unjustifiable, 179 

caught by trammel-nets, 


■5 — , a** last "of, 141 

, mode of reckoning, 141 

• , salting and curing of, 142, 

164, 169, 176, 178 

, spawning of, 48 

, statistics, 141 

"Hog boats," 125 

Hogsheads of pilchards, average 

contents of, 113 
Holy Island, fishing-boats at, 

Howth, herring fishery at, 195 
Huers, for sean fishing. 111 
Hull, trawling station at, 9, 


, fishing in fleets at, 151 

• , number of boats, 150 

Humber, fisheries in the, 150 
** Hundred " of herrings, 141 
of mackerel, 141 


loB used on board trawlers, 9, 


, effect on fish kept in, 11 

imported at Grimsby, 150 

, use of, on board trawlers 

first begun by Mr. S. Hewett. 

9, 145 

, quantity of, used at Hull, 

152 ' 

, imported fiom Nor- 
way, 9 

Icing the fish, flavour affected 

by, 11 
Irish fisheries, 17, 188 

, annual decline of, 17, 


> "cots" or herring- 
boats, 196 

, eastern coasts, 193 

» effect of emigration 

on, 191 

» effect of the famine 

on, 191 

: , fishing-boats, 189 

, herrings, 195 

, line fishing, 194 

, oysters, 196 

, seasons, 194 

, trawling, 194 

fishermen, 189 

1 various occupations 

of, 192, 193 

» help offered to, by 

Mr. B. Whitworth, 193 
Isle of Man fisheries, 194 

"Keel BoATO," 156 
Kettle-nets, description of, 98 

, meshes, size o^ 98 

, mode of working with, 99 

, near Hastings, 126 

, objections to their use, 100 

, where used, 98 

Killing the cod for market, 83 
Kinsale fisheries, 199 

• , returns for, 200 

, hookers, 199 

Knott, record of produce of a 
smack belonging to Mr. H., 45 





" Last" of herrings, 141 
Length of fleet of herring-nets, 55 

of mackerel-nets, 61 

Leigh, slirimpers at, 130 
Line-fishiag, 71 

, two principal methods of, 

, boats for, 84 

at Brixbam, 123 

on Cornish coast, 116 

at Grimsby, 71 

at Harwich, 135 

at Newhaven, 159 

, season for, 80 

at tbe Shetlands, 172 

in Wales, 107 

Ling, dried, 171, 173, 174, 178 

" Live cod," 84 

Liverpool trawling station, 21 

Lobster fisheries at the Hebrides, 


on Norfolk coast, 146 

on Northumberland 

coast, 156 

at the Orkneys, 171 

■ on Yorkshire coast, 154 

Lochfyne herring fisheries, 180 

, description of, 182 

i ^,"trawlmg"in, 183 

London fishing-boats, 127, 129 
Long-lining, 178, 194, 198 
Long-lines, description of, 72 

, buoy or " dan" to long-line, 


for cod. 74, 135, 160 

' for haddock, 159 

, method of use, 73 

, names for, 1\ 

^ number of hooks on, 72 

Looking for fish, 111 

Loss of trawl-smacks in North 

Sea, 43 
Lowestoft fisheries, 137 
, official return of boats at, 


, three fisheries yearly, 137 

trawling station, 21 

herring fisheries, 137 

Lug-rig common in Scotch fish- 
ing-boats, 168 
Luminous water disadvantageous 
in fishing, 63 


Mackebel fishing in Cornwall, 
108, 115 

in Devonshire, 124 

on the south coast, 124 

at Lowestoft, 137 

at Yarmouth, 144 

by drift-nets, 61, 67, 


season on the English 

coast, 68, 115 
coast, 68, 198 

coast, 68 

on the Lrish 
on the Scotch 

on the Manx 

coast, 69 
by ground-seans off 

Brighton and Portland, 92 
— , kettle. nets for catching, 


— , a •* hundred " of; 141 
-, spawning of, 47, 68 

Malm's observations on spawn- 
ing, 47 



Manilla hemp for trawl-nets, 33 

Manship on the origin of Yar- 
mouth, 139 

Manx fisheries, 186 

boats, 187 

fishermen in the south of 

Ireland, 187 

";Marfire," 62 

Markets for Shetland cured fish, 

Mesh of drift-net for herrings, 55 

' for mackerel, 61 

for pilchards, 61 

of scringe-net, 93 

for shrimps, 130 

of stow-net, 94 

— - — of trammel-net, 101 

of trawl-net, 30 

Me?agis8ey, Cornish sardines 
at, 115 

** Migratory " fish, 108 

Minch herring fishery, 176 

line fishing, 178 

"Mingle," 96 

Montrose, herring fishery at, 161 

Moray Firth, 168 

Morecambe Bay famous for 
shrimping, 105 

Mussel fishing, 105, 147 


Newhayen, fisheries at, 158 
Newlyn, Cbmish sardines at, 115 
Northumberland coast fisheries, 


Obstacles to fishing in the west 

coast of Ireland, 67 
«0ffal''flBh,41, 118 

Orkney fisheries, 170 

boats, 171 

Oyster fishery at Milford, 106 
dredging, 133, 184 


Paoktno herrings at Yarmouth, 


lobsters for the market, 171 

of pilchards at St. Ives, 112 

Paternoster fishing, 85 
Peterhead, herring fishery at, 


Phosphorescent light in the sea, 

Pilchard fishery chiefly on the 
Cornish coast, 69, 91, 108, 124 

season on the Cornish coast, 

69, 109 

drift-nets, 61 

seaning at St. Ives, 69, 89, 


season off Ireland, 70 

Pilchards on south coast of Ire- 
land, 124, 200 

, method of curing, 112 

, at St. Ives, 112 

, export trade of, 113 

-, extraordinary catch of, 113 

— , manufacture of "sardines" 
from young, 115 
— , estimate of takes. 111 
— , oil extracted from, 113 
— , packing, 112 
— , spawning of, 109 
-, table of shipments of cured, 


** Pit seasons,'* 44 
Plaice, demand for, 10 
, spawning of, 155 



Plymouth trawling station, 21, 


trawlers, 117 

, fish sent from, 118 

" Prime " fish, 19, 41 
Prime and ofial fish, 45 
Proportion of prime to ofial fish, 




Railways, effect of, on fish 

trade, 4 
Ramsgate trawling station, 21, 

, number of boats, 127 

Rate of speed for trawling, 37 
Red mullet, 46 

caught at Guernsey, 

Registration of fishing-boats, 13 
Ring, fishery at, 199 
Rockall bank fisheries, 175 
*• Round *' fish, 38 
Rye Bay trawling ground, 126 


St. Ives, seaning at, 69, 89, 109 

, famous grounds at, 109 

Saithe, 172, 174 

Sardines, Cornish and French, 

Sars, Professor, discovery by, 

Scarborough trawling station, 21 

, boats used at, 155 

Scotch fisheries, 157 

, trawl or sean, 20 

, yarious kinds, 157 

Fishery Board, report for 

1875, 52 

Scotch fishing-boats, change in, 

16, 157 

, masts of, 17 ' 

harbours, small, 157 

herriugs cured, returns of, 


, branding system, 166 

line fisheries, return of, 174 

mode of curing herrings, 

trawling season, 184 

stations, 22 

Scotland, interference with 

«trawling"in, 181, 182 
, return of Fishery Board 

for, 164 
-, value of boats, nets, and 

lines, 185 
Scringe-net, 91 
Sea fisheries, position of, 1 

, present condition of, 1 

Act, 1868, 13 

Sean, the, 20, 87 
Sean-fishing, 87, 89 

at St. Ives, 89, 109, 114 

in Cornwall, 89, 114 

Act of Parliament regu- 
lating, 109 

, boats used for, 110, 115 

at Brighton, 92 

"huers," 111 

, Mount's bay, 1 14 

at Mousehole, 114 

at Newlyn, 114 

at Portland, 92 

in Scotch lochs, 91 

— called ** trawling" in Scot- 
land, 91 

, season for, 109 

Sean- or seine-nets, 87 



Sean- or seme-nets, description 

— , great antiquity o^ 88 
-^, ground or foot, 91, 92 

, meshes used in, 92 

-^— , method of working, 89, 90 

, size, regulations as to, 110 

, tuck, 90 

, various kinds used here, 

Set- or trammel-nets, 100 
Sherringham crab fishery, 146 
Shetland fisheries, 170, 172 

smacks, 174 

yawls or **haaf boats," 

Shrimp fishery, 105, 107, 180, 
147, 152 

, boats for, 132 

boats, rig of, 132 

net, 130 

season, 132 

" Smacks,*' or trawl-boats, 28 
Smelts, trim-net for catching, 97 
Solent, fishing in the, 124 
Soles, 194 

Spawning habits of sea fish, 46 
Spiller {see Long-line) 
Spilliard {tee Long-line) 
Sprats, drift-fishing for, 70 
, bag-nets on weirs for catch- 
ing, 97 

for manure, 97 

seaning, 124 

, stow-net for catching, 93 

, trade in, 96 

Sprawl-wire, 80* 81 
Start Bay, crab fishery at, 119 
Steamers carrying fish, 130, 145, 

Steam-power applied to fishing 
boats, experiments and diffi- 
culties, 162, 163 

" Stow-boating," 96, 134. 147 

Stow-net, description of, 93 

, meshes of, 94 

, parts oi^ 93 

, working of, 94 

fishing, 94 

in the Solent, 93. 124 

in the Thames, 93, 


in the Wash. 98 

Supply of fish difficult to ascer- 
tain, 6 

«< Swills," or Yarmouth fish- 

' baskets, 140 

Swinden on the origin of Tar- 
mouth, 139 


Table of tonnage of fishing-boats, 

Tenby, fisheries at, 106 

trawling station, 22, 106 

Thames, fisheries in the, 127 
Trammel- or set-nets, 100, 102 

, action of, 101 

, different kinds o^ 100 

, meshes of, 101 

, origin of name, 100 

or ** tumbling-net," 102 

used at Guernsey, 102 

Trawl-boats, present and former, 

cost of, 15, 32, 121 

y fit-out of, 32 

, " ketch-rigged," 32 

, number of seagoing, 46 

, rigging ot; 13, 17, 31 

Trawlers, Plymouth, 117 



Tiawl-beam, 23 | 

Trawl-bridle, 30 
Trawl-heads, description of, 25 

, Barking pattern, 26 

, nse of, 25 

Trawling, 19, 20 

by the French, 21 

Belgians, 21 

Dutch, 21 

in the North Sea, 41 

, rapid increase of, 21 

Trawling Stations : 
Barking, 21, 119i 127 
Brixham, 21, 119 
Carnarvon, 22, 104 
Devonshire coast, 117 
DiDgle, 22, 200 
Dover, 21 

Dublin, 22, 120, 193 
Fleetwood, 21 
Galway, 22, 201 
Grimsby, 21, 119, 147, 148 
Harwich, 134, 136 
Hull, 9, 21, 119, 147, 150 
Liverpool, 21 
Lowestoft, 21, 137 
Morecambe Bay, 105 
Plymouth, 21, 117 
Ramsgate, 21, 119, 126 
Scarborough, 21, 155 
Scottish coast, 22, 158, 180, 

Tenby, 22 
Waterford, 22, 196 
Whitehaven, 21 
Yarmouth, 21 
Trawlin'g-grounds : 
In the Channel, 44, 126 
In the Irish Sea, 44 
Isle of Man, 104 

Trawling-grounds : 

In the North Sea, 43 

Coast of Scotland, 44 

Oflf Welsh coast, 107 

Trawl-net, action of, 37 

, back, 26 

^ beam, 23 

, belly, 26 - 

, bosom, 27 

, bridles, 30 

, « cod " or " purse," 28, 2^ 

, dfesoription of, 20, 22 

, draw-rope, 28 

— •, flapper, 29 

, ground-rope, 27 

meshes, 30 

pockets, 29 

, use of, 29, 30 

, proportions of, 27, 30 

** rounded*' hawser, 27 

, rubbing pieces, 28 

; Scotch or ** scan," 20 

, Spanish, 21 

, square, 26 

, true or " beam," 20 

, twine for, 30 

. , working the, 33, 37 

Trim-net used in the Wash, 97 

Trim-tram net, 136 

Trot («ee Long-line) 

Turbot, trammel-nets for catch- 
ing, 102 

Tusk, 172, 173, 174. 178 

Twine drift-nets, how made, 55 


Water-carriage of fish, 6 
Waterford trawling station, 22, 

, bag-nets for sprats at, 97 



Weather suitable for trawling, 

for drift-net fishing, 51 

Welled amackfl, 74, 134 

"— , oonstraction of, 74 

, coBt of, 77 

, crews o^ 77 

. Pntoh origin of, 74 

first used in England 


Welsh fisheries, 106 
Whelks, bait for cod, 78 

, how caught, 78, 79 

, how kept alive, 79 

, numbers required for each 

cod-smack, 79 

, where caught, 78 

Whitebait, nets for catching, 97 

Whitehaven trawling station, 

Whiting fishery, 118, 123 


Yabmouth trawling station, 21, 

120, 137 

trawl-head, 26 

vessels, 57 

, crews of, 58 

, herring fisheries at, 139 

""~" , great antiquity 

of, 139 

, season of, 140 

-, mode of landing fish at, 


statistics of herring 

fisheries at, 141